Boston Partners, the parent company of Kuriftu Resort & Spa, was founded by Tadiwos G. Belete, who currently serves as its CEO. Tadiwos was born in 1957, in the southeastern Ethiopian State of Oromia. At the age of 16, Tadiwos moved to Sudan in search of stability, security, and a better life for himself and his eight younger siblings. This was six years after the coup that resulted in the establishment of the Derg communist government, which caused severe economic and social upheaval in the country. Tadiwos has endured a great deal of adversity throughout his life, particularly during his time in Sudan, including health issues that nearly claimed his life. He often thinks back to his first job, scaring birds away on a small, privately owned farm. In 1983, he flew to the United States of America and was granted refugee asylum.

Tadiwos’s journey in the U.S. started with enrolling in a hairdressing school and working nights as a parking lot attendant. He also tried his hand in the restaurant business, promoting Ethiopian artists. He then decided to pursue his education and attended Roxbury Community College, attaining an associate degree in accounting, and Suffolk University in Boston, with a specialization in the same field. At the same time, he opened a salon on Newbury Street with seven other business owners.

Tadiwos spent 19 years working as a hairstylist in Boston, where he gained expertise and firsthand knowledge of what actually works and what doesn’t, as well as how to really run a successful business. In order to bring the Western spa experience and beauty culture to Ethiopia, Tadiwos, a happily married father of three who led a prosperous life in the US, bought a plot of land along Africa Avenue and started building the eight-story Boston Partners building in Addis Ababa. He established a salon, which he dubbed Boston Day Spa, after the renowned city of Boston, which had acted as a stepping stone to his great accomplishments.

Since the debut of Boston Day Spa, Tadiwos has expanded and opened the now well-renowned Kuriftu Resort in Bishoftu Town, in the State of Oromia, and Bahir Dar, in the State of Amhara. He also launched the Kuriftu resort in Awash. And notably, the Kuriftu Water Park is the first of its kind in Ethiopia. Tadiwos also proudly promises further mega projects in the State of Afar and the town of Arba Minch. The pan-African businessman is also building The African Village, due in September, which aims to serve as a melting pot for African culture and the hospitality industry,  offering visitors a unique experience. In this interview with EBR’s Addisu Deresse, Tadiwos talks passionately about the need to tap into Africa’s potential and boost local tourism, among other matters.


Andinet Feleke President, Ethiopian Tour Operators Association

Andinet Feleke, born and raised in Addis Ababa, had an upbringing typical of the city during. Starting from her early schooling at the Indian National School, she was known to be self-reliant. Andinet received a bachelor’s degree from Haramaya University, continued her education in the tourism industry, and then joined the University of South Africa, where she obtained a master’s degree in Business Leadership. Her first job was as a tour operating office, where she discovered her passion and potential for tourism. Along with her late husband, she founded Jacaranda Tour and Travel PLC in 2003, which is currently one of the top tour operating companies based in the capital. In addition, Andinet is the woman behind the opulent Gondar Hills Resort, which is perched on the highest mountain of the historical city of Gondar, overlooking the famed castles.


Eng. Belachew Chekene [PhD] Co-Founder, Wegenfund

Belachew Chekene (PhD) is a licensed chartered engineer with over 20 years of diversified academic and business expertise. He earned his BSc in Chemical Engineering at Addis Ababa University, followed by an MSc at Leeds University in the UK and a PhD from the University of Huddersfield, also in the UK.
Belachew has collaborated closely with cutting-edge industries while working in prestigious research facilities, and has published more than 45 articles in prestigious journals and conferences. He has held positions as a technical advisor for modeling, data validation, data management, and system development at UK’s major auto and power system companies. In Ethiopia, Belachew is the founder of Ethiopia International Professional Support for Abay (EIPSA), which is a volunteer professional association that has been working on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) since June 2013 with more than 270 professionals across the world.


Yehdego Abeselom CEO, Keste Damena

Abeselom Yehdego was a legendary businessman, humanitarian, patriotic Ethiopian, and a champion of the underdog. He made a name for himself with his forward thinking and his ability to see far beyond his years in how he operated and conducted himself. Abeselom had humble beginnings but eventually established Keste Damena Foam & Plastic Industry in 1995 – a mega business that is going strong today. When the legendary businessman passed away in 2012, his eldest son – Yehdego Abeselom – took over the helm.

Having completed his education in the US, Yehdego returned to Ethiopia in 2008. As someone who studied filmmaking, he made his first splash as the producer and director of “13 Months of Sunshine” – a film that debuted successfully. Yehdego’s first attempt to make a name for himself as an independent businessman and step out from under the shadow of his father was the launch of Jolly Bar, whose motto “Think Outside of Bole’’ made a lasting impression on Addis Ababa’s nightlife.


Kebour Ghenna served as President of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce for four years beginning 1997; and as President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce. He also founded and still serves as the Executive Director of Initiative Africa (IA), a non-governmental organization known in recent years for organizing the Addis International Film Festival, Ethiopia’s annual week-long event showcasing documentary films from around the world.

Kebour is also the Executive Director of the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He ran as a candidate for a prominent political party during the sixth national elections last year but withdrew from active membership soon after. Kebour is never hesitant to participate and partake in issues that he thinks matter and have the potential to bring about a change in Ethiopia. He has had a front-row seat to the developments and challenges of the private sector for over two decades and regularly reflects on the sector and overall development endeavors in the country on social and mainstream media platforms.

Now, as Ethiopia is eagerly searching for peace, he has once again taken a stance through Initiative Africa. He believes that peace is not an issue the government can tackle alone, and calls upon the business community to take part. Kebour speaks to EBR’s Lydia Tesfaye on his latest initiative, and the role private sector can play in securing a lasting peace.


Abebe Zeluel
Urban and Regional Planner

Abebe Zeleul is a senior national advisor at UN-Habitat. He has long years of experience in urban development issues working both for the government and in the private sector. He had worked with the former Ministry of Construction & Urban Development as a member of the strategic advisory committee. His expertise in advisory includes urban planning, quality assurance, policy formulation, legal drafting, strategic plan preparation, and more. He had also served the Addis Ababa City Administration as head of the Land Development Bank & Urban Development office. He has lectured at the Civil Service University and given short-term training on various urban issues. He has published papers and articles in collaboration with various organizations including UN-Habitat on the issues of urbanization and urban development, among others. In this interview with EBR’s Addisu Deresse, Abebe gives his two cents on the challenges facing local revenues in Ethiopia and overall progress in urbanization.


Yonas Admasu
Founder & CEO, Lovegrass Ethiopia

Yonas Admasu was born in 1968 into a rural farming family in northern Ethiopia. He graduated with a BSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Greenwich in London in 1996, after which he began his first job as an engineer—working on mobile technology at Chase Electronics. Thereafter, he continued his studies and received his master’s degree with distinction in Business and Information Technology in 2001.

As Yonas had always wanted to work in the banking and finance sector, he pursued further trainings in financial risk management and quantitative finance—becoming certified as a Financial Risk Manager (FRM) from the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) in 2004. This paved his career towards working as a Support Analyst at the interest rate derivatives desk of the global banking giant BNP Paribas. He then proceeded to join the world-renowned investment banks JP Morgan and Credit Suisse, ascending to Vice President (VP) of the emerging markets division of the latter in 2013.

After having built a career that many would envy, Yonas decided to return home to start a health-food processing facility in 2015. Although this had always been a dream, his decision was triggered by an encounter that he had with teff products at a supermarket in Britain which were clearly not of Ethiopian origin.


Markos Lemma is co-Founder & CEO of iceaddis, one of the early innovation hubs and tech startup incubators established in 2011 in Addis Ababa. He is also Founder of SelamCompany—an education technology venture working on primary education and literacy.
Through the years, Markos has focused on establishing the technology ecosystem and providing business consulting specific to information communications technology (ICT). His businesses support social innovations and startup initiatives of the young. He is doing these impactful works while also working as a program coordinator for a global study on literacy in Ethiopia.

Markos is also an advocate and advisor on entrepreneurship and innovation policy while being a member of the advisory board for the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG). He runs a variety of classes, vibrant tech scenes, and several tech events in East Africa. In this interview with EBR’s Addisu Deresse, Markos discusses the emerging landscape of startups in Ethiopia, looking at the challenges and opportunities ahead.


Seid Mohammed Birhan
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador Business Group

Born in Adi Awro, Tigray and growing up where there was no power, water, or even a bed to sleep on, Seid would first be introduced to the garment industry at the tender age of six when his father gave ETB600 to his older brother to start a business.

However, in a few years’ time, war broke out between the central government and armed rebels in Tigray and his entire family had to flee to the state’s capital, Mekelle. After doing some small entrepreneurial works, Seid moved to Addis Ababa where he began the journey of Ambassador Garment with a single used stitching machine which he bought for ETB1,000 in Mercato. Paying a monthly rent of ETB20 around 30 years ago, Seid would commence his positive and profitable trajectory.

The small business he has launched by hiring himself as an employee has now grown to employ thousands and fashionably-dress innumerable more with a vision of being a figure for a modern lifestyle brand. Now, Ambassador Garment is the destination for sharp men’s suits for the aspiring Ethiopian middle-class male. His small cloth patching machine has catapulted him to take on other business ventures. Seid Mohammed Birhan, founder of Ambassador Garment, Ambassador Hotel, and Ambassador Real Estate gave EBR’s Addisu Deresse an audience at the glinting Ambassador Mall to share his extraordinary and exemplary life as an individual and a businessman.


Having attended his medical education in Germany and then Canada, Melaku returned to engage in the medical business sector. Ten years ago, three of his friends and himself would establish WGGA, a visible player in eye clinical care. Specialized in hematology-oncology, Melaku works at the University of Alberta, Canada, and travels to Ethiopia every three months to manage his business. WGGA Eye Care Center is a full-service multi-specialty practice located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Established in 2012, WGGA offers diagnostics, comprehensive eye examinations, and the most advanced vision correction treatments and procedures for eye diseases and disorders. The center has also worked in building and furthering the capacity of Ethiopian ophthalmologists and allied ophthalmic professionals and is a division of WGGA Medical Services PLC, an organization established by two Ethio-Canadians, who have actively been engaged in philanthropic medical initiatives in East Africa for more than 12 years. WGGA has been one of the beneficiaries of lease financing to procure top-end equipment. In this interview, EBR’s Addisu Deresse had an audience with Melaku about lease financing and his company’s plans for expansion.

Ethiopian Business Review | EBR is a first-class and high-quality monthly business magazine offering enlightenment to readers and a platform for partners.

2Q69+2MM, Jomo Kenyatta St, Addis Ababa

Tsehay Messay Building

Contact Us

+251 961 41 41 41