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Linking the Ethiopian alumni with the Dutch private sector in Ethiopia
On Friday 8 December 2017, I attended the Holland Alumni Reception, organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands (EKN), the Holland Alumni Network in Ethiopia (HANET) and the Ethiopian-Netherlands Business Association (ENLBA). The purpose of this reception was to link Ethiopian alumni with the Dutch businesses and Dutch development organizations active in Ethiopia. This has gotten great support from the Dutch Embassy since a large number of Ethiopians have studied in The Netherlands through NUFFIC.
Below, Meskerem Ritmeester, the organizer of the event, tells more about this initiative.
The reception was a huge success with about a hundred people attending. The Ambassador opened the Reception and several people were given the opportunity to provide a pitch to promote themselves or their products/services, to inform about job opportunities, and to ask for collaboration. This immediately led to effective networking conversations and enthusiastic feedback. The Ambassador himself stressed in his speech that Ethiopian Holland Alumni are potential valuable assets for Dutch businesses and Dutch development organizations/projects, because they have more knowledge about the Dutch (hard working) culture, their sometimes too direct and blunt behavior and even speak a bit of the Dutch language. In addition to knowing both cultural context, Ethiopian Holland Alumni are highly professional and experienced in their respective fields as they have been granted a scholarship to study in The Netherlands based on their outstanding academic performances.
The Holland Alumni Network in Ethiopia (HANET) consists of both Ethiopian, Dutch and international alumni that have studied their BSc, MSc, PhD and/or have done a short course in one of the Universities in The Netherlands. These are all alumni that have used their educational background to contribute in a variety of ways to the development of Ethiopia. HANET strives to connect these alumni to EKN and Dutch public, private and civil society actors working in Ethiopia to strengthen the relationship and increase knowledge and intercultural exchange between Ethiopia and The Netherlands. For example, over 60% of the Ethiopian Holland Alumni studied at The Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR) which is a well-known University and Research Center focused on the agro food sector. Due to the strong link between WUR and Ethiopia, there are currently over 25 WUR-funded projects ongoing in Ethiopia (outside the many WUR MSc and PhD research projects in Ethiopia). In addition, WUR has a country office in Addis Ababa in the form of a partnership between 4 multi-annual programmes called “BENEFIT Partnership” with the aim to improve sustainable food, income and trade among rural households in Ethiopia.
Another way of linking Ethiopian Holland Alumni to the Dutch businesses and organizations in Ethiopia was raised by Abel Desta, the coordinator of the ENLBA. He argued that, “a closed LinkedIn Group should be established in order to also stay in touch in between the networking events and update one another on calls for applications, job opportunities, short-term and long-term consultancy assignments and to provide a space to promote one’s products/services and/or put up requests”. This LinkedIn Group will be established before the start of 2018 (G.C.).
In the meantime the Holland Alumni Network in Ethiopia (HANET) will continue to organize these types of networking events, reach out to sponsors (of which Heineken is already one) and ultimately hopes to provide Ethiopians who studied in Holland a large professional network with ample career development opportunities once they return back to their homes.
By Meskerem Ritmeester and Ton Haverkort
Are you an Ethiopian Holland Alumni, a Dutch business or Dutch development actor and interested in the Holland Alumni Network and our LinkedIn group, you can always contact us by sending an e-mail to [email protected]