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Scaling up youth’s reliance on entrepreneurial skills

Scaling up youth’s reliance on entrepreneurial skills

Fekadu Wubete 08-28-17

Birhanu Aschalew and Aster Aschalew, his younger sister, and their three friends are living in Bahirdar town in Amhara State, some 560 kms north of Addis Ababa. Currently, they are busy producing leather articles using raw hides and skins. The tanning process passes through laborious and traditional means of tanning. Their produce includes tambours, leather seats stuffed with grass, bags and belts, mostly to be sold as souvenirs for tourists roaming Bahirdar town.

They said they have learned artesian genius they are currently employing to earn their living from their parents who used to work and sell their handcrafts by the road side. They started business in 2010 with a combined capital of 50,000-Birr (roughly estimated to be 2,000USD) obtained as a loan from micro finance institutions in the locality. Today their business had managed to employ 15 people and they plan to expand production and hope to hire more workers; ’’the more we strive ardently, the more we add,” says Birhanu. 

Currently, the business of producing and selling souvenirs and gift articles is a booming market in Bhairdar, following the influx of tourists into Bahirdar town. They said earlier they were working in an overcrowded environment, unsuitable for the production of sealable goods. Their shop was also situated in a lane that was not most frequented by tourists, easier to say Ghost Street. Their customers were only few tourists that chanced traveling across the lane adjoining their small shop.

But now they are in a better condition they said. They are thankful that the town’s municipality has helped them to land on a shopping area that could satisfy their growing business. Hence forth, they said the sky is the limit. All of the business members are ecstatic and are busy producing and selling their souvenirs.

However, they said their problem related to production area has not yet got a lasting answer. The municipality has promised to give them a plot that suffices their purpose of production. However, it has not made any practical move to solve their problem as quickly as possible (they still hope the office may grant them a plot taking into account their cumbersome situation).

Abrham Tafesse, a senior economist and researcher working in Addis Ababa–based business and economics research firm said the government has moved many inches forward to solve the problems of the youth. However, the youth has an ocean of problem, he said, and everyone is not satisfied with the government’s efforts to reduce joblessness.

He said massive projects and same jobs being undertaken in micro and medium enterprises are good to alleviate problems of joblessness. However, massive projects often require years to be finalized and once they are completed in their operation requires less labor. As a result, thousands will be laid off again and it induces big disappointment and unemployment.

According to him, the government should strive to support private enterprises and the growing entrepreneurial skills of the youth. These trends are infallible and could be sustainable sources of job creation and income generation. Otherwise, government created jobs in public institutions and temporary jobs in mega projects may not be lasting solutions to joblessness and insatiable need of the youth for decent jobs. Hence, it is a must to sustain financing of existing private businesses in order to promote their entrepreneurship and absorb thousands of job seekers. 

Similarly, Abrham believes that there must be an investment-friendly climate to attract domestic and foreign investors to labor-intensive technology industries (there is encouraging start along with industry parks). Improved access to electricity and clean water, and to quality education, hospitals and other social services, is a starting point. Such interventions, he further argues, will mitigate urban migration and encourage young graduates to work in the rural parts of Ethiopia, which are currently in dire need of educated and skilled workers. 

He said entrepreneurship is a complex term that is often defined simply as running ones own business. But there's a difference between a "business owner" and an "entrepreneur," and although one can be both, what distinguishes entrepreneurship is a person's attitude. Accordingly, entrepreneurship is much broader than the creation of a new business venture. At its core, it is a mindset - a way of thinking and acting. It is about imagining new ways to solve problems, create and value." According to him, an entrepreneur possesses an interior fuel and stamina that drives their actions. This superior energy helps to overtake and surpass the different challenges, and it injects strength to continue pursuing goals when difficulties arise.

Successful entrepreneurs are said to be confident and self-motivated. They are tenacious and quick enough to understand their own limitations. Instead of following the status quo, entrepreneurs have a healthy disrespect for established rules and often set out to do things that others may not have the courage to pursue. They are also willing to fail and start over again; internalizing the lessons they've learned to create something new and improved.

In view of this very fact, to help equip the young entrepreneurs with vital knowledge, Ethiopian Technical and Vocational Schools (TVSs) are considered to be ideal places to offer training for the youth and make them ready for future career(however, the majority of Ethiopian entrepreneurs does not go through these types of technical and vocational training centers).

Seeing the interest of millions of youth to work hard and become economically independent, the Ethiopian government is encouraging young people to start small businesses and enhance their entrepreneurship skill; in order to reduce the rate of youth unemployment, which is estimated at to be large (though declining following construction of industry parks, operation of mega projects and the interest of the youth to enhance its entrepreneurial skill and employ itself than waiting for decent jobs to come to it).

Abreast of boosting the entrepreneurship skill of the youth, currently the government is enthusiastic enough to address unemployment problems of the youth in a sustainable manner, reinvigorate economic progress of the youth and ensure fairness in allocating national resources. Besides, the government interested to deploy skilled labor in industry parks and mega projects that have been mushrooming across the country. 

Predominantly, as a development-oriented state, the government is taking the lead to encourage young Ethiopians who want to become entrepreneurs and start business activities quickly (encourage them to organize themselves in groups in order to access microfinance and start up business). To this end, the Federal Micro and Medium Enterprises Development Agency is offering business start-up and management skills trainings to the young. In addition to providing trainings, the Agency is encouraging the youth to start business in the areas such as textiles, leather, agriculture, and trade, wood work and steel.  

In line with job creation and entrepreneurship, the second Growth and Transformation Plan has aimed to ensure rapid, sustainable and equitable economic growth that translates into creating decent job opportunities accompanied by significant poverty reduction. It also has targeted to sustain broad-based economic growth being pursued by job creation.


Over all, over the last ten years, the government has given due attention to the issues of youth. And nation has started to implement policies eyed at supporting and enhancing the employment and entrepreneurial development of the   youth. Likewise, since 2004, the nation has been implementing the National Youth Policy that marks a noticeable change in recognizing and promoting entrepreneurial skills of the youth. The policy aims to bring about the active participation of youth in building democratic system and good governance as well as in the economic, social and cultural activities (and to enhance their entrepreneurial skills of creating their own jobs and enabling them to equitably enjoy the fruits of development), among others.


In view of this, the very first thing that the federal and regional governments must undertake is to do away with corruption and the practice of corruptors who hinder the speedy process of job creation. It is secret in public that any disruption of the basic objectives of the youth entrepreneurship initiative through corruption or other untoward practices denies the youth access to employment opportunities. This in turn compounds the multi-faceted challenges facing the youth in general and harms national interest. Hence, it is obligatory for the country to iron out problems of the youth and help them benefit from development packages.

In this regard, even though it is the primary responsibility of the federal and regional governments to address the issue of unemployment, private institutions are also responsible to create job opportunities for the youth. The society should also contribute to strengthen the efforts being exerted by the government to benefit the youth as it is the main segment of society and the future the country. Hence, the government and every stakeholder should work in collaboration to create job opportunities and enhance entrepreneurial skill of the youth.

The task of job creation is endless. Currently, Birhanu and his friends are diligently working to buy new machines used to cut, design and sew leather produce and sufficiently transform their traditional way of production into modern one and open new chapter. To this end, financial institutions have lent them enough money used to buy machines. They believe starting their business a new will help them boost their productivity and burgeon access to new market niches; this in turn boosting their capacity to increase income and employment opportunities.

Currently, thousands of youth same to Birhanu and his friends are toiling hard to become owners of business and employers themselves. And the effort to support these kinds of fledgling businesses will continue endlessly as far as conquering poverty to the level it becomes no more a hindrance to the decent living of citizens.


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