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Updated: Jan 31, 2022

AmCham Ethiopia hosted a Fireside Chat and Networking event on Thursday, January 27, 2022, at Marriott Executive Apartment. The event focused on providing a platform to network and discuss success stories of local and diaspora investors and engaging its members with the diaspora community as well as other relevant partners and government agencies.

Mr. Ermias Eshetu, AmCham Board President, in his opening speech, reiterated AmCham's commitment to promote business interests and bridge the gap between Ethiopia and the US. He also stated AmCham's intention to promote investment opportunities that will encourage US businesses to invest in Ethiopia. As the main theme of the event was sharing the success stories of investors and entrepreneurs, speakers from RIDE,

KER EZHI Leather and Pizza Hut Ethiopia shared their challenges and opportunities of their business endeavors in Ethiopia.

Samrawit Fikru, Co-Founder, and CEO of RIDE stated that it was a challenge to get investors interested in her business due to lack of knowledge about the value of investing in technology. RIDE held back its intention of expanding to East Africa because of foreign currency shortage. As the technology market has immense potential for growth, she strongly recommended that the Government make the necessary changes on the investment policy and focus on modernizing the infrastructure. According to Samrawit, RIDE was able to overcome the hesitation of women to join the RIDE workforce by addressing their security concerns with safety assurances. As one of the leading Ethiopian transport hailing and booking platforms, RIDE created job opportunities for more than 40,000 employees including seven thousand women.

Zelalem Merawi, the owner of the renowned KER EZHI Leather, stated the challenges of showcasing Ethiopian-made products into the global market and acquiring foreign currency. He also recalled the importance of training and retaining qualified workers with competitive pay and benefits to create employee focused working environments that will provide seamless operation and quality outcomes. He hopes to expand his manufacturing warehouses, hire more employees, and make a franchise in the international market in the long term.

Michael Ghebru, managing director at Belayab Motors, franchise owner of Pizza Hut, ColdStone, and Burger King was one of the speakers at the panel discussion as well. He discussed the challenges of the Franchising business as it requires an immense effort to convince franchisees to invest in Ethiopia and as it is difficult to obtain foreign currencies. Despite the challenges, he has managed to run his business by opening stores in the Addis Ababa airport where foreigners can purchase with their currency of choice and succeeded to expand its outreach to the region by opening stores in Djibouti and Somalia with a plan to open additional thirty stores in Rwanda by the end of 2022. He expressed his hopes that Ethiopia will adopt a well-organized corporate structure to enhance its potential and increase investment and export to gain foreign currency.

The guest of honor of the event, her Excellency Ambassador Geeta Pasi, the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, in her remark, foresees that the strengthening of bilateral relationships between Ethiopia and the US can enhance the growth of Ethiopia. She expressed her optimism that Ethiopia will boost its potential by modernizing technology in a way that enhances people’s lives.

The fireside chat and networking event created a platform for the guests to network and discuss different opportunities to help each other and their country. Marriott Executive Apartment, BGI Ethiopia and East African Bottling Co partnered with AmCham Ethiopia to make the event a success.

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