The Iconic Lady


Eleni Gabre-Madhin (Phd), the outgoing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), together with her board of directors, have officially transferred their positions to the new incoming management.
At the farewell ceremony held at the Millennium Hall on the evening of Tuesday October 30, several government officials, members of the diplomatic community and about 1,500 other invited guests attended the succession party.
Eleni, who formed and managed the first of its kind commodity exchange on the continent, has served ECX for five years as CEO.
The modern market has lifted up the small farmers fighting poverty, and the country’s economic prospects, since it commenced operation in April 2008.
Since trading began the CEO and the organization got a great deal of local and international support.  At the farewell ceremony the outgoing CEO said that she feels that she is ‘one of the luckiest person in the world,’ to be able to have a dream and realize it. Explaining why she ever did it, she said, “it is very simple; it is because it was needed. There was a problem of hunger, disaster and darkness that looked difficult to break, but if we all try together, there is nothing we cannot do. 
She worked relentlessly to form the exchange to help solve the problems related to the traditional trading system and reduce poverty that is related with lack of sufficient market. “I was able to do this because we have a fully development oriented government. There was a great commitment starting from the top leader,” she said. 
“I would like to thank the late PM Meles Zenawi and other government officials who closely worked with me to realize the system,” she said. 
“There isn’t such dedicated commitment in many countries,” she further said, reminiscing her first discussions with the late PM. He asked me what will be needed to set up the ECX. I told him that laws will need to be drafted, policies engaged, telecommunication and banking networks shall be needed. His response, looking straight into my eyes: “It shall be done!” 
She also recognized and profusely thanked Neway Gebreab, Senior Economic Affairs Adviser to the PM, Adissu Legesse, former Deputy PM and Board Chair of ECX, Yakob Yala, State Minister of Trade, Tefera Derebew, Minister of Agriculture, Addisalem Balema (Amb) head of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange Authority, Mekonen Manyazewal, former Board Chair of ECX and Minister of Industry.
“I also want to thank international donors including USAID, the WB, UNDP, CIDA and the European Commission, for their immediate financial and other technical support for the realization of the ECX,” Eleni said.
No work can be done alone, said Eleni, thanking her team who worked as hard as her in the realization of the ECX.
Anteneh Assefa, the incoming CEO, who was vice president of Bank of Abyssinia, said that the new management team will also work hard to continue and uphold the success registered by Eleni and her management team. “We will include more products and new services to expand the trading activity,” the new CEO promised. 
Currently, coffee, sesame, haricot beans, wheat and maize are traded on the electronic market. For her success, the former CEO has gotten international recognitions and numerous awards. Additionally, following her lead, several African countries have taken the Ethiopian exchange as a model for setting up their own commodity exchange centres.