During Global Entrepreneurship Week, the U.S. Department of State assembled a group of private sector representatives to explore investment and collaborative business opportunities in Ethiopia, as the country seeks to implement historic economic reforms. The Partnership Opportunity Delegation (POD) spent a week engaging with government leaders, private sector entities, and Ethiopian entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing Ethiopian innovators and share expertise on how the country can better foster an enabling environment for startups and tech. The delegation included more than 15 companies representing the United States, Japan, and Sweden.
The POD, led by the Office of Global Partnerships, explored opportunities in various sectors of the Ethiopian economy including digital connectivity, Fintech, creative industry, and startups. As a result of these first-hand engagements, several of the delegates committed to support Ethiopia’s economy in tangible ways through workforce development, social entrepreneurship, startup investment, exploring opportunities for telecom privatization, and mentorship training.
The week culminated in two events recognizing Ethiopian startups and entrepreneurs. The Africa Fintech Summit brought together over 400 attendees to recognize excellence in entrepreneurship and innovation across the African continent, allowing POD members to learn about the opportunities and risks of the Ethiopian economic ecosystem. The following day, the Department of State partnered with Microsoft, Google, Pegasus Ventures Startup World Cup, and the Africa Fintech Summit to host P!TCH ETHIOP!A, an entrepreneurial pitch competition for seven Ethiopian startups. The delegation provided mentorship to startups, who then presented to a panel of industry professionals and investors. AXIOM Financial Technologies, a startup focused on increasing access to financing by developing the first credit scoring platform in Ethiopia, won the competition. In doing so, AXIOM representatives earned a chance to compete in the Startup World Cup 2020 in San Francisco for a $1,000,000 investment prize.
The POD, along with the P!TCH ETHIOP!A competition, is an extension of the Department of State’s active support for Ethiopia’s historic economic reforms. Both programs forged strong partnerships and networks that will advance the growth and economic prosperity of the region. Delegates have already begun making commitments to engage further with Ethiopia. Some of these include Amazon Web Services’ activation of technology credits for all seven finalists of P!TCH ETHIOP!A. Other pledges include Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s new partnership with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education to integrate social entrepreneurship methodology into the curriculum of four Ethiopian Universities and Opportunity International’s pledge to host their Africa Regional Conference in Addis Ababa on January 27, 2020.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.