Speech by UNDP Resident Representative Eugene Owusu Launch of UNDP-Canada Partnership for the Entrepreneurship Development Programme

Apr 30, 2014

I am delighted to join you today to mark the launch of an important new partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Canada.

I am particularly honoured that the Canadian Ambassador, Mr David Usher, could be with us to mark this occasion and to attend the closing ceremony of the ‘Entrepreneurship Development Training for Women’.

Thank you, Ambassador, and all your colleagues at Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, for your ongoing support to UNDP.

Canada is a strong and longstanding partner of UNDP, both around the world and here in Ethiopia, helping us to deliver development results where they matter most.

Today, our collaboration enters a new phase as we combine forces to support entrepreneurship and economic empowerment in Ethiopia through the Entrepreneurship Development Programme.

In particular, I thank Canada for their generous and strategic support of USD 5.8 million to this programme. This support will help us strengthen our efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship training and access to customized business development services.

It will help us to expand the scope and reach of the programme across the country, building the entrepreneurial capacity of around twenty-five thousand Ethiopian women and female youth. This is especially important given the challenges female entrepreneurs in Ethiopia face, such as accessing land, education, and finance; challenges which can be especially acute in rural areas.

I also thank the Government of Ethiopia, and in particular the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction and the Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency, for their unwavering commitment to this programme.

When we look around the world today, we see that the role of governments in enabling countries to meet their development goals is critical. Only governments can set the policy frameworks and enforce the relevant laws and regulations.

But, governments cannot do the job alone. Transforming economies needs the innovation, commitment, and investment from a vibrant private sector.Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan articulates a bold vision to become a middle income country by 2025.

Central to achieving this vision is the rapid growth of local industry and the private sector, including micro and small businesses, and helping them to become medium and large scale enterprises.

The private sector in Ethiopia is rapidly expanding but more needs to be done to transform it into vibrant engine of growth. By promoting entrepreneurship development, Ethiopia can create a robust foundation for an energetic private sector and contribute to the bottom-up economic growth of the country.
The Entrepreneurship Development Programme seeks to do just that.

By the end of 2015, we hope to transform the mind-sets and behaviours of 200,000 Ethiopians, particularly youth and women, and to help them acquire or improve entrepreneurial skills and knowledge. We intend to help those entrepreneurs succeed in their goals, and hope that eventually they can create job opportunities in their communities. Through the programme, we intend to turn young men and women into job creators as opposed to them being job seekers.

This is not just a theory written on a programme document. We are starting to see this happening across the country.

With us today are a few of the women and girls who have finished the ‘Entrepreneurship Development Training for Women’.

This training is a part of a joint effort between the Entrepreneurship Development Programme and the First Lady’s Office to support the economic empowerment of 1,500 women and girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Allow me to congratulate all the training participants, who come from Ledeta Sub-City in Addis Ababa, for their successful completion of the entrepreneurship development training.

Today marks the conclusion of one milestone in their journey to becoming entrepreneurs. After this week’s training, they will have to take what they have learned and translate it into how they run their businesses. I know this is not always easy, and that plenty of challenges may lie ahead.

But know this too: they are not alone. While their training is completed, our support to them is not. The Entrepreneurship Development Centre will continue to provide graduates with business development advisory support, covering issues like managing production lines and marketing.

The Entrepreneurship Development Centre is a resource for everyone – so I encourage all graduates to come back and make use of the experts and their experience and their contacts as they seek to grow their businesses.

By completing this training, you are also setting an example to women and girls across the country – that you can take control of your own destiny, and that you can turn your visions into reality.

There is every reason for many of you here today to become successful business women, leaders in your communities, and important contributors to a bright future for Ethiopia. I wish you every success on your journey.

Thank you once again to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ethiopia for your ongoing support to the work of UNDP in general, and to the Entrepreneurship Development Programme in particular.

Working together, we can help women and men across the country breathe life into their business ideas and support them to grow their enterprises. This will allow Ethiopia achieve its goal of becoming middle income over the next decade.

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