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Climate Change Entrepreneurship in Ethiopia: Seeing Opportunity for All

H.E. Ato Mahamouda Ahmed Gass, State Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, addressed over 120 participants at infoDev's Climate Innovation Center workshop and emphasized the importance of climate technology entrepreneurship for Ethiopia's economic future.

infoDev’s Climate Innovation Center workshop in Ethiopia, H.E. Ato Mahamouda Ahmed Gass, State Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, emphasized that “risk tolerance” in Ethiopia needs to be addressed through proper support and financing so that an entrepreneurial culture can flourish. The Ethiopian Government’s efforts to support domestic innovation, technology transfer, and commercialization are particularly strong in the area Climate Innovation, as evidenced by their ongoing development of a Climate Resilience and Green Economy (CRGE) strategy and their recent partnership with infoDev to plan a Climate Innovation Center (CIC).

One of the local entrepreneurs from the private sector panel , Ato Hussen Ahmed, is founder of Soil and More, a waste management company developing commercial production sites to turn floriculture waste into compost. His current operations focus on a farm that produces up to 70 trucks of flower waste a day. Ato Hussen intends to franchise the model and is looking for funding and partners to scale the business.

As part of the planning process, infoDev held a workshop  in Ethiopia on August 17 that brought together over 120 participants to explore private sector challenges and opportunities for climate innovation and green growth. The workshop was part of a series of ongoing stakeholder consultations in Ethiopia to develop a business plan for a locally designed CIC.

The expert Ethiopian Government, World Bank, UK DFID, and private sector panels and speakers from the morning sessions set the stage for an afternoon of multidisciplinary working groups that tackled the challenges and opportunities facing Ethiopia. Participants were divided into groups that focused on areas including technology development, access to finance, entrepreneurship, markets, policy, and woman and girl led innovation. Teams were tasked with describing the barriers preventing innovation in each of these categories including brainstorming potential solutions and interventions that the CIC could provide.

One issue discussed in the technology working group was the lack of practical application that engineers have when graduating. A proposed solution included partnering with local universities to provide practical training courses on climate tech sectors combined with an ‘innovators award’ for thesis students. A CIC providing such programs would assist graduates in applying their class theory and thesis projects to real-life Ethiopian challenges.

The workshop concluded with each team presenting to the audience for final comments and feedback. The outcomes of the working groups will be used as direct inputs into the CIC business plan. Over the coming months, follow-up surveys, interviews and focus groups will be held with stakeholders to provide further experiences and expertise into the crafting of the CIC’s model.

The model which will describe the Center’s services, programs and financing will be outlined in detail in the business plan which is due for completion in December this year. The Ethiopian Climate Innovation Center is expected to launch in mid 2012.  

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