Over 300 business development service advisers from across the country working with the Entrepreneurship Development Center (EDC) met in Addis Ababa for the first annual forum organized with the support of UNDP and the Government of Canada.

UNDP’s acting Resident Representative, Mr Samuel Bwalya, described business development service (BDS), which is part of the services made available by the Entrepreneurship Development Programme, as an essential component of ‘perhaps the most transformative programme for inclusive private sector development currently available in Ethiopia’. 

The Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II) is expected to place even greater emphasis on country growth through Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises all of which serve basis for BDS clientele across Ethiopia.

Mr. Jason Schmaltz, International Development Officer of the Embassy of Canada, a key EDC partner, noted that Ethiopia requires greater investments in entrepreneurs in the country’s effort to reach its development goals. Mr Gebremeskel Challa, Director General at the Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency (FeMSEDA) reminded the BDS advisers of their concrete roles in shaping the entrepreneurial potential of Ethiopia which he highlighted has achieved remarkable results in the first phase of the Growth and Transformation Plan of Ethiopia. ‘To date, EDC has provided customized BDS support services to over 5,200 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs. There still remains work to be done’, Mr Gebremeskel emphasized highlighting that it is ‘through this service that change is brought to the entrepreneurs.

The forum provided BDS advisers with an opportunity to network, share best practices and develop follow-up action items to addressing as capacity development and encouraging more women to sign up as advisers.

In presentations by EDC Regional Coordinators and advisers reported on progress and opportunities from the Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and the SNNP region. In Amhara for example, 66 BDS advisers provide services for 705 clients in 12 towns and have plans to scale up to 17 towns. In Oromia region, there are 51 BDS advisers currently provide services to 430 clients in 16 towns, and plan to expand to reach 600 clients. In SNNPR, 30 BDS advisers provide services to 202 clients while in Tigray there are only 34 BDS advisers currently active in seven towns.

The majority of the clients receiving BDS support are in the service sector closely followed by manufacturing, construction, trade and lastly agriculture.

 Moving forward, the Entrepreneurship Development Center will continue to build capacities of its BDS advisers, including initiating a BDS Management Training Programme in order to provide BDS support to groups and complement its current on-going outreach to individuals clients ; strengthening partnerships with like-minded organizations to increase service delivery; formalizing access to finance linkages by working with additional financial institutions in the country; and increasing entrepreneurs’ awareness of the BDS services.

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