Buzuayehu T. Bizenu, a father of six, is a Group Chairperson of East African Holding, a de facto industrial conglomerate with 17 subsidiaries. His company is engaged in the manufacturing of fast moving consumer goods, tea processing, printing and packaging, transport, real estate, cement production, and coal mining. Although Buzuayehu has structured and re-established the company almost 25 years ago, it is his grandfather who founded the business more than a century ago, making him the third generation in a family of entrepreneurs. After his father inherited the business and diversified into milling and agriculture (coffee), his fledgling enterprise was nationalized by the Dergue regime in 1974.
While this was a major setback, the family’s dreams and aspirations were not curtailed as entrepreneurship was deeply engrained in his soul from an early age. Soon after, Buzuayehu was able to pick up after his father, although this was an extremely difficult task under communist rule. He fled to neighbouring countries to establish trading and distribution posts, opening offices in Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. He moved to Ethiopia after EPRDF took power in 1991. Attracted by a favourable private sector and industrial development policy, he quickly transitioned from trading to manufacturing and agribusiness.