EDTF Ethiopia Board Announced

Of the 11-member Board of Directors five are chosen from the Diaspora representing "different parts of the globe," the announcement stated. (Image: @PMEthiopia)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: May 20th, 2019

New York (TADIAS) – The long-awaited selection of the Board of Directors for the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund was announced today.

“The EDTF Board of Directors is the apex governance body which will provide overall leadership and set the strategic direction, policy, oversight and accountability of the EDTF,” the PM’s office stated. “It will, among others, review and approve EDTF financed projects that are identified and vetted by the EDTF Secretariat.”

As of this week, eight months after it was officially launched last October, the fund has raised about 3 million dollars so far from approximately twenty thousand donors worldwide. The aim is to hopefully reach the estimated three million Ethiopians residing in the Diaspora and to generate about a billion dollars annually through the fund.

How Democratic was the Board Selection Process?

The initial announcement of the creation of the Board of Directors had stated that it “will comprise of eleven persons drawn from the Ethiopian Diaspora, Civil Society and the Ethiopian Government.” Notably, in comparison to the EDTF advisory council membership, the new Board of Directors includes more female members and appears to be more gender-balanced. However, the process of how the individuals were selected was not clear in the recent announcement.

During a press conference last December organized by EDTF at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Advisory Board members had emphasized that the selection process for the Board of Directors would be more transparent and promised to engage the public in making recommendations. Since then there has not been much public discussion dedicated to the subject. Nor is there any publicly available document showing the pool of potential candidates that were considered for the positions representing the larger Ethiopian Diaspora.

Of the 11-member Board of Directors five are chosen from the Diaspora representing “different parts of the globe recommended by the EDTF Advisory Council,” the announcement stated. Three members of Civil Society representing Women, Youth and the Ethiopian public; and three members of the Ethiopian Government.”

At the media briefing the idea of using voting mechanisms was also briefly mentioned, but quickly dismissed as being impractical — although it’s worth mentioning that many Diaspora communities in the United States do vote on a regular basis, including online, to select their representative leaders.

The announcement did not state for how long the new Board members will serve and when the next elections will be held.

While we congratulate EDTF on the formation of the new Board of Directors, we continue to encourage the fund to engage the Ethiopian Diaspora not only to discuss fundraising concerns, but to develop more transparency on how representation in governance is decided, and if possible to create a participatory electoral process in the future.

The full names of EDTF’s new Board of Directors are listed below:

Sirgut Yadeta, Editorial Lead, Lloyds Bank Group, London, U.K., representing Diaspora in Europe

Dr. Mehret Mandefro, Founder and President, Truth Aid and Executive Producer, Director of Social Impact, Kana Television, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, representing diaspora in North America

Chernet Debele, Founder and General Manager, Kia Travel & Business LLC, Maryland, USA, representing diaspora in North America

Yohannes Asefa, Director, Agriculture & Agribusiness, USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Nairobi, Kenya, representing diaspora in Africa

Dr. Abdulwehab Ibrahim, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Technology and Science, Abu Dhabi, UAE, representing diaspora in the Middle East

Sister Zebider Zewdie, Founder and Executive Director of Mary Joy Ethiopia, representing women

Mr. EyesusWork Zafu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Bank, representing the Ethiopian public

Selamawit Dawit, Director General, Ethiopian Diaspora Agency, representing the Ethiopian Government

Hirut Zemene, State Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bilen Mamo, Advisor, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation.

Few Takeaways From EDTF Press Conference at Ethiopian Embassy in DC
Interview: Dr. Lemma Senbet on the Diaspora Trust Fund & Chapter Formation
Interview with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu About the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund
A Diaspora Trust Fund for Ethiopia (Tadias Editorial/July 10th, 2018)

You can learn more about the fund and contribute at ethiopiatrustfund.org.

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