PBS Documentary Features CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, July 16, 2009

New York (Tadias) – Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, is being featured in a PBS documentary hosted by Aaron Brown on July 22nd 10pm EST.

Brown recently visited the newly opened exchange, and asserted that if this project, the first of its kind in Africa, succeeds, then it can serve as a model for the rest of the continent.

Dr. Gabre-Madhin completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University and her doctorate in Economics at Stanford University before embarking on her vision to create Ethiopia’s first commodities exchange. Crop failures and recurrent famines prompted Gabre-Madhin to focus on food security and improving buyer/seller communication in rural agricultural communities in Ethiopia.

Having followed Dr. Gabre-Madhin’s work over the course of the exchange’s first year, Brown notes that despite the global economic downturn, several key milestones have been achieved. “It is really the story of one person’s vision and how tenacious she has been, the sacrifices she has made, the intelligence she has applied, to feed a country,” Brown says.

Tune in to watch the PBS feature on Gabre-Madhin entitled “The Market Maker” on July 22nd.

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The film will be screened on Friday, July 24th at the Four Points by Sheraton in Washington DC (12th & K), followed by a brief speech by Aaron Brown and Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin. Attendance is by RSVP. Please contact Hanna Tadesse at: hanna.tadesse@gmail.com.

18 Responses to “PBS Documentary Features CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange”


  1. 1 Adane Jul 16th, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    The Market Maker!

    I cant wait to watch it. Dr Eleni, you are a good example to the new breed of scholars we need in Ethiopia: the kinds who will go through anything to leave a bold mark in the fight against poverty. I just wish you inspired more people like you inspired me because with many like you we can scratch poverty off our backs for good.

    Thank you, Dr Eleni

  2. 2 Meron Agonafir Jul 17th, 2009 at 1:03 am

    There is no dispute that her vision, if it works, will dramatically reverse Ethiopia’s image of continual famine. However, it is an experiment and an expensive one at that. We don’t know yet if it is working. The recent debacle with coffee traders in Ethiopia is a case in point of the system’s kinks that needs to be corrected. The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange is a market place and it should not at all be too closely associated with the government. Although I admire and respect Dr. Eleni’s ambitious effort to build an institution, the appearance of a government controlled market place is not conductive for business. Other than that, I salute Dr. Eleni. And I too am looking forward to the PBS program!

  3. 3 woy_good Jul 17th, 2009 at 1:57 am

    She talks about it here. October 26, 2007

  4. 4 Mulu Jul 17th, 2009 at 4:50 am

    The idea of a commodity exchange for Ethiopia and indeed Africa is brilliant. Eleni Gabre-Madhin is ahead of the time for Ethiopia. The frustration lies in lack of education both to the farmer and the middle businessmen. I think focusing on education and training the actors will prevent future confrontations with business people. The intention is good, so I wish her and Ethiopia success.

  5. 5 dararaa Jul 17th, 2009 at 4:57 am

    She might be talented lady, but the problem is the government! If they see promising things, then they will dismiss her!

  6. 6 R. Wilson Jul 17th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Dr. Elleni’s ambition and tenacity is admirable. However, a couple of points:

    1. The Ethiopian Commodities Exchange IS NOT the first of its kind in Africa. There were at least five other attempts and all of them (except that of South Africa’s) can be considered failures. The verdict on Ethiopia’s case is yet to be seen (although the results so far are not that great, it is too new to call it a failure)

    2. Fancy institutions are not always the answer to Africa’s problems. People need to really examine if such institutions deliver as advertised. The results should not be measured by what their promoters say but what the institutions are actually able to deliver on the ground.

    3. Let us not always blame farmers and other actors. If a system needs educated actors and this is known before it is implemented to serve “uneducated” actors, then the problem is not with the actors but the implementers.

    4. I wish Dr. Elleni and Ethiopia a success

    R. Wilson

  7. 7 Dinku Jul 17th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    She has an admirable resume but that should not mislead us. The institution is nothing but another ugly bottleneck on our economy. The way the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange is designed seems to be a central place to facilitate corruption and benefit one ethnic group. I hope the reporter asked her how she manged to get the trust of the ruling party because it is not easy for one, how much smart he/she is, to get the trust of the ruling party unless……

  8. 8 Dessalegne Jul 17th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Thank you Eleni!!

    I watched the way you demonstrated. It was clear and easy to see the problem in our country. I think that was magnificent work. Eleni, you have done an outstanding work on behalf of Ethiopia as a good citizen and responsible person. Congratulations on your wonderful work. God help me to do my part.

    God save Ethiopia.
    Dessalegne

  9. 9 woy_good Jul 17th, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    A country must be free before anything good can happen. Look at North Korea vs South Korea. The same exact people one free with elected government, the other a dictatorship.

  10. 10 Mamushet Jul 17th, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Ethiopia should have implemented food security policy eyons ago. The fact that this woman has the guts to attempt something she obviously believes will work to alleviate poverty and famine in her country is beyond admirable. It is commendable. Kudos!

  11. 11 Metasebia Jul 18th, 2009 at 9:53 am

    This should be beyond commending personal ambition. Is the commodity exchange really good for Ethiopia? Would incorporating traditional market systems instead of only the high tech ECX work better? The jury is still out.

    But one thing is clear, there have been very public blunders that must be recognized. And every time questions have been raised, ECE have been displaying unwise empty posturing (Check the recent embarrassing spat with reporter Melissa Allison for example, who reports on coffee for the Seattle Times). The CEO attempted what amounted to be an intimidation of a U.S. based reporter. But then, the journalist herself reported and blogged about it. Apparently, when you are in Ethiopia, it is easy to forget “the free world rule” that unless you are in mode of self-destruction (in this new media age), you do not court journalist by intimidation. The pen is more powerful than an army.

  12. 12 Betty Jul 21st, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    You can call in and speak with her on Thurs. Check here for all the details.

    http://www.addistunes.com/ranking.php?mode=blog&message_id=17&row_template=blogs.tpl

  13. 13 Tazabi Jul 25th, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The Commodity Exchange is a great concept and Dr. Eleni deserves a lot of credit for it. Unfortunately, the way it has been (and is being) implemented leaves much to be desired and could possibly lead to its failure. The funny thing is that Dr. Eleni will also deserve much of the blame for it if this comes to pass. And many people feel that its eventual failure is just a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.

    As someone else pointed out, the huge drop in coffee exports from Ethiopia this year is because of the new trading system and not because of all the other excuses (hoarding, drought) that are being thrown out in public. If the coffee trading system at ECX isn’t corrected before the next season arrives (in a few months), we can expect another year of low exports from our top export crop.

  14. 14 ene Jul 26th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Here is a balanced assessment of ecx’s first year of doing business: http://www.poorfarmer.blogspot.com

  15. 15 ephr4 Aug 20th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Dr.eleni is just what ethiopia needs at this time since our government needs more time to develope and democrtize our country without the outside world and some diaspora lunatics interfirance.Your service is very importante for at least 5 more years.

  16. 16 Fekre Aug 24th, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Historically an exchange was established to facilitate surplus production of commodities. In Ethiopia case surplus never existed for decades. An exchange also can not be establishes in a vacuum. The independent market institutions do not exist in Ethiopia.

    There seems to be a disconnecting the intellectual élites. Ramming an exchange on a self substance farmers failed when the exchange abandon trading of the none existence surplus grain commodities. Short of closing down the exchange it is trying for cash crops. Already forced coffee sell by decree failed to build confidence on the exchange and sesame seed seems to follow the coffee fate.

    What is left to trade? Exchanges requires transparency to develop trust. The reckless way the exchange was establishes would make this important institution useless for a long time to come. What a tragedy.

    The only way to salvage the exchange is to hand it over for independent committee where farmers and traders can have a degree of trust on the system. But, that requires a political will and banning of politically motivated traders. Can that be possible? is the million dollar question.

  17. 17 Solomon Aug 11th, 2010 at 1:46 am

    In a country whereby 85% of the population is blieved to be farmers, there is a saying which absurdly contempt the farmer” farmers do double mistake;selling butter for cheap and spending more on cooking oil.” This has been a saying for many years simply to undermine with contemptous manner.

    In a such un healthy approach and unbalanced exchange which had made the Ethiopian farmers incessantly exposed to starvation and death, the work which undergoes with Dr. Eleni and the other board members, is encouraging and their painstaking effort will change the future of the Ethiopian farmers,and other traders will be beneficiary too. This is a very good begining which would enhance the creativity, confidence,ability and effectiveness of the public in general.

    The involvement of the government in regards to regulating and monitoring the service is not bad at all. if willing to go too skeptical for every progress moving by deligent individuals like Dr.Eleni,our future will be way backward.

    Enthusiasticly saying,it is a great job and move on.

  1. 1 Live Chat with Aaron Brown and Eleni Gabre-Madhin at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Jul 22nd, 2009 at 1:16 pm
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