Ninth Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum and Awards Dinner Held in DC (Video)

The 9th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum held in Washington, D.C. on August 2nd, 2014. (Photos by Matt Andrea)

The Ethiopian American

Press Release

Washington, D.C. – The 9th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum and the 4th Pioneer Diaspora Business Person Award Dinner were successfully held in Washington, D.C. on August 2 and 3, respectively.

The annual event held under the theme “Investing in Ethiopia’s Emerging Technology Sector”, recognized three Diaspora entrepreneurs and inventors for their pioneering work in Diaspora investment in Ethiopia.

With various speakers drawn from the Ethiopian Diaspora community and beyond engaged in the technology business both in Ethiopia and in the U.S., this year’s Forum was marked by extensive discussions on the opportunities, challenges and potential partnership possibilities in the technology sector in Ethiopia.

Organized by The Ethiopian American – a U.S-based Ethiopian Diaspora business and investment group – the Forum and the Awards Dinner held at the George Washington University and Grand Hyatt Washington (Hotel), respectively, attracted record hundreds of Ethiopian Diasporas from Ethiopia and America as well as non-Ethiopians interested in business and investment in Ethiopia.

A unique feature this year’s event was a Private Equity Pitch Session for small and micro enterprises (SMEs) that are looking for early stage and expansion capital. The Ethiopian American has recruited Private Equity firms that are interested in investing in SMEs in Africa and potentially in the U.S. The session was held privately at The George Washington University Business School on the morning of August 2 where several Ethiopian Diaspora-owned businesses presented debt and equity investment opportunities for U.S. private equity firms whose representatives raised various questions after listening to the presentations.

“This year’s Forum raised the bar for excellence in terms of the quality of programs, speakers and the record turnout,” said Yohannes Assefa, Executive Director of the Forum. “We are really encouraged by the success of our first Private Equity Pitch Session and we hope to scale up this important financing avenue for our members with bigger and better Private Equity firms next year and beyond”.

Another element of the Forum which has been growing more popular every year since its introduction in 2011, the Pioneer Ethiopian Diaspora Business Person Award, was this time given to two diaspora entrepreneurs who have introduced innovations in business that have significantly and positively affected business practices with long-term results in Ethiopia.

Munir Duri, Founder and CEO of Kifiya Financial Technology PLC, and Daniel Gizaw, CEO of dVentus Technology PLC, have jointly won the 2014 Pioneer Diaspora Business Person of the Year Award.

Kifiya (www.kifiya.com) is an innovative financial solution that has made financial and non-financial services in Ethiopia simple, affordable and within reach while dVentus Technology (www.dventus.com) is a unique venture in Ethiopia focusing on state of the art technology ranging from system integration to energy efficiency solutions for renewable energy and advanced transportation.

The juries selected Munir and Daniel among several nominees through series of screening stages and procedures that took several weeks ahead of the event.

Another unique feature at the 2014 Forum was the Diaspora Business Champion Award, which was given to Addis Alemayehou, Founder and Managing Partner of 251 Communications, for his outstanding contributions in strengthening diaspora businesses through various supports.

“The successful conclusion of this year’s edition of the Forum and the Award Award is yet another milestone in the growth of the Forum,” said Yohannes Assefa, Managing Director of the Virginia-based The Ethiopian American LLC. “As we successfully conclude the 9th edition, we are embarking on major preparations for the 10th Anniversary of the Forum coming in 2015, which will see a new level of engagement by the Ethiopian Diaspora.”

Jointly sponsored by the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Airlines, The George Washington University Business School, Fairfax Africa Fund, AltourTech, Kabu Coffee, Info Mind Solutions, among others, the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum and its annual magazine – The Ethiopian American – have for the past nine years served the diaspora as reliable platforms to discuss opportunities and challenges of doing business in Ethiopia.



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