Gizeshwork Tessema

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Gizeshwork grew up dealing with her own version of ‘the woman’s challenge’. Yet, she identifies them not as such but rather as experiences that may bring forth opportunities.

Gizeshwork founded Gize PLC—a logistics company, about 25 years ago—and is also a contributor to the World Bank’s Doing Business Index as well as member of the United Nations Global Compact—a community of 8,000 CEOs from all over the world that convenes once a year to chart innovative ways for entrepreneurship for a better world.

She is a familiar face in the business scene as well as spearhead of the fundraising committee for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), for which she has taken a keen interest in as it is a project of pride for her and the nation.

Entrepreneurial and making business from solving problems from her start, she is of the firm belief that one should not stay put with accomplishments but rather always push for more success. From a stationary to a travel company and from construction inputs to freight and logistics services, Gizeshwork has made her living and name in Ethiopia’s business sphere as a strong woman that overcomes her problems by providing solutions to her customers and clients—and gaining financially from it. She gave an audience to EBR’s Addisu Deresse on her experiences as a woman, an entrepreneur, and one that assumes roles in global institutions.


Joost Heij is Country Manager of Tradin Organic, a global supplier of organic ingredients with 13 global offices. Subsidiaries under the company’s Ethiopian operations include Selet Hulling PLC and Sunvado Manufacturing PLC. Joost has more than 25 years of working experience in finance, trade, and management, including 13 years as an entrepreneur.

Globally experienced in Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Asia, he worked at Peja International BV and Africa Juice BV before becoming General Manager of the decades-old Upper Awash Agro-Industry Enterprise. He holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Groningen and a master’s in international banking and management from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

Currently, Joost heads Sunvado Organic Avocado Oil, a processor and exporter of premium cooking oil with operations 300 km from Addis Ababa in Yirgalem. Joost talked to EBR’s Addisu Deresse on agricultural exports and the challenges of the sector in general.



Lelise Neme Ethiopian Investment Commissioner

Lelise Neme was just 24 years old when first appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC)—an entity tasked with grooming and grouping manufacturers into efficient centers of industry throughout Ethiopia. Her leadership traits were seen even much earlier, however.

Lelise assumed leadership roles as a student at Jimma University and prior to IPDC, held the Director General position at the Oromia Industrial Development Agency and the Deputy CEO role at Oromia Industrial Park Development Corporation. Yet, she had to endure criticism after criticism for assuming senior roles at such a tender age.

Now, she heads the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) at a time when investment flows are exhibiting downward trends due to a flood of challenges including the pandemic, national security deterioration, and war.

At a time when the nation needs an economic uplift to ease foreign exchange shortages and rampant inflation, Commissioner Lelise is facing the challenge of attracting more investment into a nation rocked by a series of internal and external trials and tribulations. One of the younger leaders of the current administration sat down with EBR’s Addisu Deresse to discuss investment prospects of Ethiopia.


Born on October 23, 1950 in Debre Markos in the State of Amhara, Berhane Mewa was educated in his hometown until joining Bahir Dar University’s Polytechnique Institute for his diploma in industrial chemistry. Then, after attaining a BSc. in Chemistry from Addis Ababa University, he founded Processing of Poly Industrial Chemicals (PPIC) in 1978. Berhane is known for his role at the Ethiopian Industrialists Association and Ethiopia Chamber of Commerce. Others also recognize him as a diaspora member involved in the Coalition for Unity and Democracy—the famous political movement and party during and after the 2005 national election. He recently returned to Ethiopia as part of the diaspora homecoming with plans to invest along with other colleagues in the pharmaceuticals industry. EBR’s Addisu Deresse had an audience with Berhane on the potential of the diaspora to play a greater role in Ethiopia’s economy as well as on the challenges of the private sector.


As much as Ethiopia is commended for the number of universities built and students graduated over the past several years, one cannot say the same about employment opportunities available to these young jobseekers. As the world, and hence Ethiopia, goes more digital with each passing year, online labor markets are presenting themselves as an alternate means of employment. With more and more Ethiopians tapping into jobs over the internet, digital labor markets could ease unemployment and forex burdens, writes EBR’s Addisu Deresse.


Shimeles Gebremedhin CEO, eTech

As Ethiopia prepares for increased digitalization, a slow increase in investment in innovation and technology is evident. Being the first digital company to ever go public in Ethiopia, eTech is working where public awareness towards the use of technology is still inching forward. Yet, the startup has managed to involve more than 525 shareholders to raise ETB200 million in paid-up and pledged capital. EBR’s Addisu Deresse talks to Shimeles Gebremedhin, CEO of eTech, about the challenges and prospects facing his company and the sector in general.


In recent years, Ethiopia has seen more and more of its citizens campaigning and securing leading positions in global institutions. From United Nations agencies to tech giants in the United States’ Silicon Valley, more Ethiopians are tiptoeing up the helm of big multinational corporations and organizations. As much as the trend shows both individual and national success, recent developments paint a contradicting picture of Ethiopians as global leaders, writes EBR’s Addisu Deresse.


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) invited opposition party leaders when he formed his new cabinet last October. Perhaps looking to freshen up the workings of the Ministry of Education, where many would agree infrastructure is relatively present but implementation and focus on quality have been highly lacking, Abiy installed Berhanu Nega (Prof.), a venerated educator and opposition figure. Such opposition leaders must see the appointment beyond its political implications and realize that the country faces real challenges that require their technocratic attention, writes EBR’s Addisu Deresse.


Abdiaziz Hassan,
CEO, Rays Microfinance

Having grown up in eastern Ethiopia’s Somali Region, a group of six men observed potential in the community that raised them. They saw a zeal for trade and an awareness that embraces technological change and other dynamics. In 2014, they would set out to establish Rays Microfinance to tap that potential and turn it into profits. Having been licensed by the National Bank of Ethiopia, Rays was sabotaged by the region’s previous administration and did not make it into the financial sector. With the coming of the new administration, the company launched its services in 2020 and the founders are marching towards their ambitious goal of realizing a totally cashless society in Somali Region and beyond. EBR’s Addisu Deresse sat down with Abdiaziz Hassan, Chief Executive Officer of Rays, to talk about the journey, challenges, and prospects of the institution and the financial sector in general.


The 125 years old Addis Abeba seems to be at a threshold of a major socio-economic shift. As the middle class urbanite poised to reach a significant mass, the city has become a sea of changes, transforming at a breakneck speed. The infrastructure setting and the material needs of this growing cosmopolitan society is growing by the day. Numerous massive infrastructure projects are under way and different buildings are popping up here and there. But, the number of upcoming buildings may not be good enough to tell the whole story any more. Beyond this surprising structural development in the City, life has not just been what used to be for the city dwellers. From automating the daily life to a high demand of a world class comfort, life of the Addis Abebans seems to be changing for the better.

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