ABOUT ETHIOPIAN INNOVATOR
Raising Awareness of
Social innovation Activities in Ethiopia and Other African Countries
Ethiopian Innovator (EI) was developed to raise awareness of
the area of social innovation and digital social innovation in Ethiopia among Ethiopia
youth. The strategy is to show examples of social/digital innovators in Ethiopia as well as in other
parts of Africa. The EI platform also seeks to encourage Ethiopia Diaspora
groups and other local entities to consider supporting such entrepreneurs
through financing and through technical support to the extent possible.
Digital Social Innovation
There are promising developments for the technology center
in Ethiopia such as Ethio Telecom’s nearly 200% discount on internet access,
and new initiatives to promote technology entrepreneurship by the Ministry of
Innovation and Technology and other stakeholders. There is still, however, much
to be done in terms of promoting technology based entrepreneurship in Ethiopia.
One key challenge for technology entrepreneurs, as well as
other entrepreneurs, is lack of access to finance. Banks do not provide loans to implement
business ideas and there are few venture capitalists willing to invest in
start-up ventures. Even impact investors that are slowly appearing in Addis
Ababa are not eager to invest in very early stage firms. Licensing procedures,
tax laws, and unavailability of affordable office space are additional
constraints for Ethiopia’s innovators.
EI seeks to profile social innovators and help them attract
the necessary finance to scale up their operation and increase efficiency
through digitizing their operations, as it is clear they cannot achieve the
substantial social impact that they seek to make without doing so. Besides
mainstream social innovators, EI is also profiling digital social innovators who
already integrating technology into their operations. The objective is to raise
awareness of digital social innovators among youth and to also assist the
profiled innovators to attract financial support.
The EI platform also provides links to resources for
aspiring and existing innovators in areas related to launching and operating a
business such as business planning, marketing, etc. In addition, a commentary
section provides commentary on social innovation in Africa.
The EI platform is being launched through Partners in
Development, a non-profit organization focusing on women and youth
entrepreneurship development and Diaspora knowledge transfer with collaborative
activities undertaken by ice Addis, the first technology incubator established
in Ethiopia. EI is also collaborating with Ignite Investments, a firm that provides
business planning and coaching services to promising SMEs who are already
operational in Ethiopia. Some of the innovators profiled in the EI platform were
part of an investment readiness program for socially/environmentally conscious
supported by the British Council/European Union. The previous project provided some
business support and business coaching to selected socially minded and
innovative entrepreneurs, and was implemented by East Africa Gate and staff of
Partners in Development.