Executive Ideas Exchange Forum Discusses Harness Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Ethiopia's Development

Sep 29, 2014

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in close partnership with Addis Ababa University organised the 6th Executive Ideas Exchange Forum to discuss how to harness the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to enhance Ethiopia's development. The dialogue and the four presented papers sought to create awareness on the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship, trigger ideas, kick-off discussions, enhance the creation of an enabling environment for Ethiopian entrepreneurs, and inspire student to become entrepreneurs.


“UNDP strives to works together with government partners on inclusive growth and business models,” said Country Director Samuel Bwalya in his opening remarks. “We facilitate connections with local, national, and global actors, and help to identify approaches which can both add value for businesses and advance human development,” he explained and reaffirmed UNDP’s firm commitment to support entrepreneurship development in Ethiopia.


Ethiopia has undergone tremendous transformation over the past ten years. By tapping into the dynamisms of its people and their strong entrepreneurial spirit, it can continue boosting job and wealth creation, developing a vibrant private sector, enhancing economic growth and human development, and reducing poverty.


Entrepreneurship and self-employment can offer a path for young people to find employment. Young people are often great sources of new ideas, huge energy and untapped potential. They are at the forefront of innovation and have the capability of igniting change. Education can shape attitudes and behaviours. Consequently, UNDP believes that the partnership with Addis Ababa University can advance the national discourse on poverty reduction and human development and bring together different stakeholders from the government, academia, and the private sector to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and collect actionable guidance and insights for improving management education. The jointly organised policy forums strive to influence policy-making and the business environment through enhancing dialogues, encouraging innovation, enriching the talent and capacity of executives and managers, and inculcating entrepreneurial orientation of the entire nation.


The 6th Executive Ideas Exchange Forum focused on showcasing how innovation and entrepreneurship could be harnessed to boost Ethiopia’s economic and social transformation. Four academic research papers were presented to set the context. The first presentation, Value Innovation and the Ethiopian Economy: Scanning the Policy Environment, emphasised the need to address skills development, incentives, access to information, and availability of finance as building blocks of sustainable innovation policies. The second presentation, Frugal Entrepreneurship, introduced the concept of frugal innovation and provided examples on how these types of innovations could be tapped into in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The third presentation, Entrepreneurship – a Matter of Innovation or Self-employment, called for a stronger focus on behavioural changes and investments in educating students in entrepreneurship. The fourth presentation, Role of Stakeholders on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, looked into the potential of stakeholders in supporting and fostering entrepreneurship development in Ethiopia. The papers drew great interest and created a lively discussion among the participants. The teased out inputs were collected and will be used for creating an extensive development brief, a decision-making tool for the policymakers and other key stakeholders.


UNDP attaches great importance to programmatic interventions like these which cultivate the robust entrepreneurial spirit of the women, men and young people, and unleash their full potential and contribution to economic transformation. In Ethiopia, UNDP proudly supports the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) which is being implemented in cooperation with the the Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction (MUDHC), the Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency (FEMSEDA), and the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC). The Programme has, to date, trained numerous entrepreneurs and business development advisers across the country. Beyond trainings, it is providing business development support and advisory services to an increasing number of Ethiopians and micro and small sized enterprises. By the end of 2015, it hopes to transform the mind-sets and behaviours of thousands Ethiopians, specifically young people and women, help them to succeed in their goals and turn them from job seekers to job creators.

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