On Friday, November 22, 2019 AIESEC in Ethiopia in partnership with Entrepreneurship Development Center (EDC) had an event called sparking the fire: from idea to reality where we featured 3 young entrepreneurs. There were a total attendees of 75 people of different background following the Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 18 to 24. It was a panel discussion moderated by Kibur Kibret, the National Vice President of Partner Development for AIESEC in Ethiopia. It was an eye opener and inspiring event. These young professionals shared their stories from the beginning to how they got to their current stage. They shared all their struggles, their challenges, the ins and outs of becoming an entrepreneur.
Filimon T/Silasie is the founder of Fili Coffee. Fili says in short that he is a coffee roaster but when it all began he never saw his future turning out like this. Fili was also a student in Addis Ababa University and had always aspired to become a basketball player, but life had other plans. He was working with iceaddis when an opportunity came across his way through AIESEC. A Turkey company that has coffee roasting machine wanted to take one intern from coffee producing countries and market their product. Filimon was chosen to represent Ethiopia. After working there for a year and being the only intern who sold the product, he came back to Ethiopia to represent their company. But due to the country status at the time and unavailability of foreign currency the business had to be shut down. That’s when the idea came to his mind that instead of just selling the machine, he can use it and roast coffee. In order to make this come true he had to go through different struggles especially with the government from being legalized to getting a house for the machine. All those struggles passed and now he has a beautiful coffee shop around Laphto. He left us with a message that says “Enjoying the journey over celebrating the success”.
Nathan Damtew, founder of Beblocky, is a Computer Science graduate from Addis Ababa University. He first came up with the idea when he saw his cousin play clash of clans. He said to himself “If kids can understand a complex game such as clash of clans, then they can definitely understand programming as well. We could just design it in a way that is fun and game-like”. He started pitch his ideas all over campus and soon after that he was pitching on big stages and he was being interviewed on radio shows. He had yet to do his app and since everyone was expecting it, the pressure was high. When he finally got to it, he said that getting a team together was the hardest part. He worked through it all and finally launched his first launched the first version. Even though the launch was successful, this version of beblocky was bleak and so it had to be improved. One day while reading a magazine he stumbled upon a reach for change project that says “Tech for Kids” that aligned with his project. He applied and was accepted to their program. There, he got funding which he used to hire a proper team. He also learned how the business side of things worked like fiancé, accounting, marketing and so on. Now beblocky is a wonderful game-like app that is helps kids learn programming in a fun and exciting way.
Satta Abraham is a graduate from Addis Ababa University, School of Commerce in Business Administration and Information System and a former AIESEC alumni. He took a break after he graduated and went to the US. While he was there, he crafted about 7 projects and pitched to relatives and diaspora community there. Convinced that he has all the support he came back and started working on his projects. Due to unforeseen circumstances and people not delivering on their promises 5 of his projects failed and he is still working on the 2. When asked where he got his ideas from he said that he had a folder on his PC starting from when he was young and in that folder there were sub folders labeled in different fields like agriculture, technology……. And in those folders he would write any ideas that pop in his head With all the diverse audience and diverse guests there were a lot of learning points for everyone. People who were planning on starting their own Start up learned the ups and downs, the smoothness and the struggle one has to go through to make their idea a reality. How it is more difficult it is to start your own company at a young age because of all the doubt from the community, the betrayal from your fellow friends, lack of finance, lack of knowledge of the people responsible and so on. It is a package deal when one planes on creating something of their own.