On 29, June EDC – Ethiopia had the pleasure to host Ato Benyam Bisrat, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Jupiter International Hotels, as part of the Executive Entrepreneurship Programme. EDC’s Executive Entrepreneurship Programme offers seminars where seasoned successful local entrepreneurs are invited to speak to startup and existing entrepreneurs in order to share their experiences as well as industry best practices.
In addition to Ato Benyam’s role with Jupiter International Hotels, he is also the President of the Addis Ababa Hotel Owners Association. In his capacity, Ato Benyam plays a key strategic role in the development of the Ethiopian hotel and tourism industry. He was able to share with the group of entrepreneurs how he started a business in a sector where he had no experience. Despite this challenge, Ato Benyam associated his success with the ability to have a clear vision coupled with passion and commitment. Combined, these factors can make any driven entrepreneur successful in their business endeavors.
During the discussion, Ato Benyam spoke about the immense opportunities for entrepreneurs in Ethiopia due to the growing population and the shift in the everyday way of life for Ethiopians. He used the example of the expansion of condominium buildings in Addis Ababa which provides entrepreneurs in various service sectors immense opportunities to cater to the individuals living in condominiums. This opens the doors for various types of entrepreneurs but particularly those in the baltina, injera and bread baking, dairy, as well as laundry services, just to name a few. As the demography of a country shifts, for example more people living in condominium buildings, it is important for any successful entrepreneur to adapt accordingly and find solutions to societal problems.
In addition to adaption and flexibility, Ato Benyam spoke about the many challenges that he faced and still faces today, one of which all entrepreneurs can relate to: access to finance. He stressed that entrepreneurs of all sizes face this challenge to varying degrees but the solution is a one size fits all: be persistent and be determined. If you believe in your business and you are determined and persistent, then the money will follow. He also spoke about being creative when looking for sources of finance such as partnerships and creating synergies with other like-minded entrepreneurs. It is common in the Ethiopia business culture not to share your business idea (due to the fear that someone will steal it), let alone form partnerships. But there are immense benefits from selecting the right partner for your business and creating synergies among sectors. Unless we as a society breaks this mold, it will be challenging for the local private sector to compete with the influx of foreign investors. There are immense opportunities for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in Ethiopia and many public and private entities that are willing to support their growth. With the right vision and persistence, the sky is the limit.