Omidyar’s insight into Ethiopian entrepreneurship

Omidyar Network Africa, a philanthropic investment firm based in South Africa, unveiled the “Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa” report,

an eight-month undertaking created in partnership with the Monitor Group on Thursday at the Sheraton Addis. The report is based on surveys of entrepreneurs in six African countries; Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.
The report states that Ethiopia out performs her global and Sub-Saharan Africa peers along a number of factors such as legislation, administration burden and legitimacy of entrepreneurship. 
In addition to the survey, it was stated that the report relies on findings from workshops with entrepreneurs, business leaders and government officials, as well as more than 72 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders throughout the continent. The report states that while a culture of entrepreneurship is growing, several barriers remain in creating high-impact entrepreneurship, core among the barriers being access to financing.
“Though Ethiopia has experienced impressive economic growth at an average annual rate of 11 percent over the last five years, the livelihood of a majority of Ethiopians has not improved at a similar rate. Urban inequality is on the rise, and per capita income, at USD 1,100, is still among the lowest in the world,” stated Malik Fal, Managing Director of Omidyar Network Africa.
The report also states that the Ethiopian government has made significant strides in other areas to improve social and economic conditions, but entrepreneurship is critical to creating sustainable growth and improving the lives of Ethiopians.
“Although capital, networking organizations and innovative business approaches, such as incubators, are lacking, there is an air of optimism about operating businesses in the country,” said Malik.
Other specific findings on Ethiopia suggest that financing is the most notable constraint for entrepreneurs with limited financing options emerging as one of the most significant challenges they face.
The findings also show that only 15 percent of respondents are aware of organizations and programs that can direct them to sources of debt capital while 52 percent of respondents believe that the cost of debt hinders company formation and growth.
The limited existence of formal and non-formal business networks was also recognized as a challenge in Ethiopia. Only 34 percent of respondents agreed that there are many informal business networks to support new and growing firms.
Only 24 percent of respondents agree that business support services like legal, audit and consultancy are sufficient to meet the needs of new firms.
Some of the positive findings in the report state that the legitimacy of entrepreneurship is growing and a culture of entrepreneurship is emerging, with 74 percent believing that the creation of new firms is an appropriate way to earn income, while 78 percent consider becoming an entrepreneur a desirable career choice.
Another finding the report states as a positive point is that 78 percent believe successfully establishing a business now carries as much prestige as traditional career choices like becoming a doctor, engineer and so on. The report also indicates that Ethiopian entrepreneurs are particularly upbeat about the changing business environment as the country continues to reform from a more planed and centralized socialist state to a more open economy.