EMPRETEC Ethiopia Business Society (EEBS), a society established in 1996, organized a half day workshop at the UN ECA to mark “The Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)” for the second time, last November in Ethiopia. GEW is celebrated around the world with activities aimed at promoting the culture of Entrepreneurship. It is an initiative by former British Premier Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm (PhD), a Professor at Syracuse University of USA, who was once named by The Economist Magazine as the “evangelist of entrepreneurship.”
EMPRETEC used the occasion to honor Teka Igano (Kegnazemach), one of the earliest entrepreneurs
in Ethiopia. The Entrepreneur, who started his business as Kuralew (recyclable waste materials collector), today, owns a factory and runs other businesses. Such events exemplify the vitality of enterprise culture in our country besides acknowledging achievements. It also helps to popularize the culture of innovativeness which is important for the creation of a vibrant private sector.
Enterprise culture is interestingly a vast discipline and is so critical, particularly, in portraying the level of economic development any country can achieve. Surely, starting a business requires courage even in the best of times. This includes the courage to take risk of investing money into an idea and to take leap into the unknown future. History tells us that millions of entrepreneurs, with a great majority from the developed countries, displayed enormous dedication and courage as they strive and finally succeed to create their own businesses, despite the many failures they encounter. As the saying goes “you try and fail many times; but you again try and finally succeed!” Entrepreneurs never give up!
Entrepreneurs achieve their goals by working firmly to overcome the daily challenges they face. However, there is an assortment of tribulations they might come across, which vary from one community to the other. In a country like Ethiopia where enterprise culture is not well practiced, the challenges appear to be sterner. These attest to the need to see the importance of addressing the root causes that hinder entrepreneurship development in Ethiopia.
As many scholars and various studies have indicated, entrepreneurship is determined by factors such as culture, attitudes, environment, support, opportunities, finance or wealth. Certainly, the developed countries have gone far in terms of technology and economic growth by effectively and efficiently utilizing their resources; while the developing countries are technologically far behind, struggling to find the viable mix to develop technologically and grow. Therefore, it is indisputable that we need to dig deeper and understand what the differences exactly mean along with their implications.
It is also generally believed that non economic variables like culture and institutional factors are determinants of entrepreneurship development. The study of norms and values as well as the more concrete issue of how social structure and exchange are patterned are important for the promotion of entrepreneurship.
Culture’s role e should not be underestimated. Culture is such a powerful influence that shapes behavior, influences morals and creates a specific national identity. Action-oriented and practical entrepreneurs are
bred and developed in different societies that encourage citizens to be imaginative and creative rather than in societies that don’t. These enable individuals not only to “think outside of the box” but also prepare them to be inventors of new resolutions. This makes them to be more creative.
A precise strategy on how to produce innovative entrepreneurs should also be devised. This requires the provision of fundamental issues including environmental factors consisting of level playing field, efficient and supportive institutional setups, training in theoretical as well as practical skills, role model images of successful independent businesses and opportunity identification. These shall also be complemented and reinforced by other variables like knowledge and insight, funds and skills.
According to some literatures in Ethiopia, though there are many positive and unique qualities and attributes regarding culture, a lot needs to be done to change its unfavorable situation. For instance, the child rearing practices in majority of Ethiopian families, the Budda perception and neglect to craftsmen etc. are some that can be cited. Additionally, lack of tolerance and patience for dialogue to thoroughly digest and resolve differences is also observed in a majority of the population. Moreover, reluctance of being adventurous, fear of the unknown, adherence to things that are only acquainted, and failure to recognize and acknowledge achievements need to be changed. The implications of these and all other attributes have a significant impact on the culture towards developing or encouraging enterprise. Such areas shall be discussed in future articles, but what they totally amount to is naturally, a tendency towards being uncomplimentary to enterprising culture, and they need to be addressed with remedial measures.
There are a lot of challenges that hinder enterprise culture in Ethiopia that have to be resolved to create enterprising citizens. The next editions will explore these in depth.