The Entrepreneurship Development Center (EDC) - Supporting Startups in Ethiopia

By Lina Mohammed


The Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) is a quasi-governmental entity established under the framework of the Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).


EDC has been supporting startups in different parts of the Ethiopia since it's official launch in February 2013. With its headquarters based in Addis Ababa, it has regional offices in Bishoftu, Hawassa, Bahir Dar and Mekelle.


This innovative entrepreneurship and enterprise development initiative was formulated and introduced to facilitate the realization of the entrepreneurship development goals set in the government’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) by the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, represented by the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MoUDHo), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


The overall objective of this Programme is to bring about a transformational change in unleashing the growth potential of micro and small-scale enterprises.


The programme aims to identify growth-oriented enterprises as well as potential entrepreneurs, unemployed youth and women nationwide and provide them with direct support to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and competencies to establish and operate profitable, competitive businesses on a sustainable basis.


In view of the vision of entrepreneurship development in the country’s growth agenda, EDC-Ethiopia specifically targets to serve the need of the following people:


  • Growth oriented MSEs which have potential to create and develop into formal business sectors.

  • Prospective entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth, who are interested in starting their own businesses and to develop self-employment

  • Medium-sized enterprises pursuing business expansion

  • Rural farmers to promote agro-based small businesses


The EDC is currently providing the following services:


1. Trainings


EDC provides trainings offered in Amharic, Afaan Oromoo, and Tigrigna


2. Business Development Services


This includes mentoring, guiding the SMEs through a growth plan, innovative financing, multi-faceted improvement and innovation, operating facilities, marketing and access to market with particular emphasis to youth and women enterprises.


Their business development services are categorized as the following:


  • Group BDS Training Sessions

  • One-to-One BDS Services: available for entrepreneurs who seek to accelerate the growth of their business.

  • On Demand Business Development: provided to entrepreneurs at any EDC office during regular business hours.


3. Innovation Services


EDC provides customized innovation training, Experience and knowledge sharing forums & networking sessions and Innovation promotion and outlet linkages.


4. Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurship:


EDC established this centers in 5 universities: Addis Ababa University College of Business of Economics, Adama Science and Technology University, Bahir Dar University, Hawassa University, Mekelle University.


5. Global Entrepreneurship Week


Every year EDC celebrates the Global Entrepreneurship Week by recognizing Young Male, Young Female Entrepreneur and Best seasoned entrepreneur of the year.


Although EDC has had major achievements but it also did face a few challenges. EDC's marketing and communication manager, Rekik Ashagre has shared a few of them with Shega.


Absence of National entrepreneurship development policy and strategy :


Although the programme is aligned to existing national policy framework, the absence of a comprehensive National Entrepreneurship Development Policy to anchor the programme through more appropriate institutional structures, mechanisms and complementary measures to support MSME development in a holistic manner is noted as a major gap that needs to be addressed.


Governance and institutional framework :


The EDP has been implemented as a government project housed under the Federal Republic of Ethiopia institutional setup. Whilst the efficacy of this choice has been made clear as it has advantages in terms of sustainability and ownership,  there has been some confusion on the identity of the EDC.


Centres of Excellence for Entrepreneurship (COEEs) :


While the CoEEs have been established and housed within the five universities, according to plan, the mechanisms have not been mainstreamed into the human resources structures and resource allocation of the universities.


However, Rekik also added that, currently the Entrepreneurship Development Center is implementing the second phase of the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (2017-2020).


In 2020, EDP aims to bring a transformational change by unleashing the growth potential of small and micro enterprises through entrepreneurial skills training; provision of a comprehensive range of business advisory services and facilitating access to finance.


In addition, the project will identify and select growth-oriented enterprises as well as potential entrepreneurs, unemployed youth and women entrepreneurs and provide them with entrepreneurship training; a comprehensive and integrated range of business development services and facilitate access to finance in Addis Ababa and all the regions of Ethiopia.


EDC is planning to establish additional Centers of Excellence for Entrepreneurship in two public universities. EDC will strengthen its performance on these four pillars in the year 2020 as well.


EDC also hosts business plan & business idea competitions each year to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.


This year EDC is running Ethio Spur, a business plan competition organized to promote entrepreneurship through access to finance. EDC offers different prizes for the winners upto 300,000ETB.


The Ethio Spur Business Plan Competition invites business entities that have been in operation for the last 4 months.


For the year 2020, EDC is expected to continue to perform its usual engagement and finalize Ethio Spur Business Plan Competition in the coming March.

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