The EU-funded project Business Incubators Communities Ethiopia (BIC Ethiopia) aims to address bottlenecks in the Ethiopian start-up ecosystem, started in January 2022. sequa, a globally active development organisation that works in close cooperation with the German business community, is leading the project implementation together with five highly committed partner organisations.
The Addis Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations will leverage its reach of 50,000 SME members and its experience in shaping national policy in favour of the private sector. adelphi gGmBH and GrowthAfrica will contribute their extensive experience in developing curricula for start-ups and entrepreneurs, capacity building in incubators and acceleration programmes, as well as strategies for access to finance. IceHawassa, a national grassroots innovation centre, and the Ethiopia-focused foundation People for People (MfM) will establish, expand and manage incubation centres in the southern and northern regions of Ethiopia.
The team met in March 2022 for an internal kick-off and planning workshop in Addis Ababa to conceptualise activities for 2022 and deepen the shared understanding and commitment of all stakeholders. The event was highlighted by the presence of Mercedes Marin Nortes from the Delegation of the European Union to Ethiopia who joined the meeting and gave the welcome remarks.
The project works with selected existing and newly established incubators and supports them to develop sustainable and technically sound business models. Regional benchmarking, best practice examples, standardised curricula, professionalisation of operations and the development of new revenue models are part of the cooperation in year one and two.
The training programme is followed by practical implementation. Incubators that took part in the training are enabled to better support start-ups and MSMEs in the field of agricultural technology and agribusiness in order to improve market access, generate higher incomes and create jobs. The best of the participating incubators will be commissioned to implement a pre-incubation programme for 600 start-ups as part of the Project. This will be followed at a later stage by an incubation programme for 160 newly founded MSMEs. The project will work with private financing institutions such as banks and investors to promote unconventional thinking and create new financial access opportunities for MSMEs.
BIC Ethiopia will also work with the Ethiopian Association of Start-up Ecosystem (EASE), which is currently being established by private, academic and non-profit incubators to serve as a network and discussion forum for incubation centres.