A new entrepreneurship development program designed by the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction (MoUDC),
that would offer training and comprehensive business advisory services to micro and small scale enterprises, was launched on February 19. The program requires a total budget of USD 26.3 million to which the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has already allocated USD 6 million. The remainder is expected to be raised by the government and other development partners.
Ethiopia is on a fast track to growth and development, which requires knowledge, skill and power to sustain, said Mekuria Haile, Minister of Urban Development and Construction. “We have a flaw in the way we approach entrepreneurship in our culture,” Mekuria remarked, “This is one of the challenges we are facing in the execution of our plans and goals.”
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, also admitted that there’s an acute lack of social capital, particularly entrepreneurship skills, which makes it difficult to sustain rapid growth. “There’s widespread belief that only the government can afford to create jobs for millions of people,” Hailemariam told participants at the launching ceremony.
For Hailemariam, not only is this belief erroneous and impractical in a country where every resource needs to be deployed in the most efficient manner, but it is also impossible to imagine the country sustaining its current growth rate with a balance sheet weighing heavily on unproductive government expenditure. He believes that, without the development of entrepreneurial skills by young people in the hundreds of thousands, the kind of equitable distribution of wealth that the government is very keen on achieving cannot be realized.
Micro and small enterprises are an important source of capital for the economy as the economy is at an early stage of development, even though Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is also essential, both Hailemariam and Mekuria stated. Micro and small enterprises improve the income, thereby the capacity, of a society and lay the foundation for industrial transformation.
The maiden entrepreneurship development program is aimed at developing the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth by changing their attitude and outlook as well as increasing their capacity towards creating jobs for themselves and for others.
The program includes trainings and comprehensive business advisory services to support new start up businesses and enhance already established institutions so as to accelerate economic growth, create more new jobs, wealth and alleviate poverty.
In order to achieve the objectives of the program, a center has been established, according to Mekuria. “Office facilities have been prepared, a management structure designed and a director has been employed for the center,” he said. The center would be equipped and staffed shortly. The center would be tasked to train trainers via university lecturers and TVET teachers and/or entrepreneurs, to work with the media to bring about a change in attitude, and to develop skills and shape the attitudes of beginners and those already in the business, Mekuria indicated.
At the 31 universities the country has to date, centers of entrepreneurship will be established, according to Mekuria. “University presidents have been given the assignment by the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Education Demeke Mekonnen. They also have taken note of the responsibility bestowed upon them by the PM and the importance of their contribution at the launching ceremony which they attended. In the first phase of the program, centers would be formed in the Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional states and Addis Ababa. Other regional states and Dire Dawa would follow in their footsteps eventually. A micro and small enterprises council will also be formed by more than 10 ministries and other stakeholders including the Ministry of Industry (MoI), the Ministry of Trade (MoT) and the Ethiopian Road Construction Authority (ERCA), Mekuria said.
The three-year long program is under the supervision of the Small and Micro Enterprise Development Agency, a department of MoUDC.
Under this program, over 200,000 entrepreneurs will be provided entrepreneurial skills training and business advisory services, to develop and improve enterprises and create more than 1.2 million new jobs. A group of 26 entrepreneurs have been trained under the program so far, and 25,000 additional people will be trained as trainers with a further 20,000 to be trained as business advisors to support the implementation of the program so as to insure sustainability.