AWiB Events Upcoming Event Negotiating through the Ethiopian Business Culture
17 April 2017 Written by 

Negotiating through the Ethiopian Business Culture

Ethiopia is the third largest economy in Africa and among top 10 world's fastest growing economies. According to experts, the country has had double-digit economic growth over the past 10 years with an average 10.5 per cent growth. This noticeable achievement has caught the eye of large numbers of potential investors from around the Globe. Ethiopia is also actively pursuing to improve its investment climate by adopting more efficient processes to reduce bureaucracy in the areas of registration, logistics, and taxation. However, this economic progress doesn’t seem to translate to the local businesses.  Howprivate sector friendly is the business culture in the country? What is the bottleneck for the local businesses and yet attracts so much FDI? Could there be economic development without the participation of the local businesses? Are they participating? To what degree?

What does a Business Culture mean? What does it tell the onlookers who would like to establish their own businesses? Is it important to study a culture of how things are done in a society as we study market trends? How important a role does culture play for economic development of a nation? What do we say about Ethiopia’s business culture? Does it inhibit or foster prosperity, resilience, risk taking and other crucial characters of a successful business person?  Could it be said that culture and its relationship to economic development is a reliable measure of economic success?

For instance Ethiopia & South Korea were believed to be comparable in terms of income per capita, structure of production, and foreign aid. Thirty years later the contrast could not be more striking. What accounts for this mind boggling gap? Culture? Bad policies? Education? “South Koreans value thrift, investment, hard work, education, organization, and discipline. Could we say the same for Ethiopians? Could culture be a factor? How about corruption? Lazy, unskilled workforce? Could it be a case of who you know and not what you know?

“Culture is an idea that frames the totality of a person or groups of people, it is an accepted norm that determines such people’s lives, thinking, perception (world view) therefore it is very vital in development and in a peoples rate and level of development. Poverty is a product of a people’s culture which is believed and cultivated over time and eliminating it will mean looking at the negatively contributing norms, concept and ideas. When I hear some development agencies and government in Africa say they are eradicating poverty by empowering the poor through giving them grants and loans to expand their small businesses, giving them business skills, giving free seedlings to farmers to increase yield sometimes I laugh because that will not eradicate poverty, eradicating it will take a process of re-orienting the people to begin to adopt culture/values that will change and positively impact on their total life to advance. Values of hard work, thrifting, dignity in labour, discipline. There are some cultures in Africa which believe that whatever is gotten in a day should be finished that day and that God will provide that of the following day. Therefore working out of poverty in a more sustainable way is adopting a set of values that are compatible to humanity's moral development….

PATRICIA MICHAEL, a comment on an article “Does Culture Matter for Development”? By Augusto Lopez-Claros & Valeria Perotti.

Basing our argument on the above comment, we have invited three Successful women owned businesses to enlighten us what has contributed to their success? They are accomplishing their life’s mission against all odds and contributing to Ethiopia’s agenda of 2025—becoming a middle income country. What do they know that we don’t? Why it is so many businesses start and fail or run at a minimum? And very few become successful and even wealthy to compete with international big businesses? What do we learn from these businesses that we may challenge all the assumptions and realities?


Aster Solomon has a rich experience in establishing and managing businesses and large scale projects. She has accumulated vast managerial skills through her over 20 years of work experiences in government, the private sector and as a consultant in international organizations.

Aster is a co-founder and GM of the first GIS service company in Ethiopia, Information Systems Services (ISS), established 19 years ago. Aster owns and manages the Mosaic Hotel, one of the newest International Hotels in Addis. Aster is also a GM of a private school, New English Private School (NEPS), a family owned school that delivers education from KG to High School. NEPS currently has four branches that give service to local and international communities. 

Aster is one of the founders and board of directors of Enat Bank.


Kathy Marshall

Kathy Marshall, a Canadian by birth but a twenty-year veteran of Ethiopia, founded Sabahar in 2004 and still works as its General Manager. Her passion for preserving and celebrating the rich weaving tradition of Ethiopia combined with her desire to create respectful and ethical work opportunities for marginalized people have laid the foundation for the company which is also a model for other sustainable businesses.

Sabahar is an Ethiopian company that produces uniquely designed, handmade cotton and silk textiles. All products are entirely hand made in Ethiopia from natural fibers. Sabahar produces hand-woven home ware and apparel. Using Ethiopian Eri silk cocoons and cotton harvested from small local farms. They hand-spin the fiber on drop spindles, dye, often with natural dyes, and then hand-weave using traditional looms. A member of the World Fair Trade organization Sabahar creates positive work opportunities within Ethiopia with a special emphasis on employment for women.

A voice for Ethiopian weavers, in a decade, Kathy has nurtured a business which employs 74 artisans, who produce high quality, exportable silk and cotton products. The lives of such artisans have been uplifted through such a stable employment. 

Date: May 4, 2017

Time: 5:30, networking; 6:30 Program

Investment: 300 for members, 350 for Non-members for Dinner and Program

Venue: The Mosaic Hotel for program and dinner

Members have the privilege of having a table to exhibit their services and products to over than 100 guests with discriminating tastes. Please reserve your table if you are interested to do so.

RSVP is a must at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; call 0947-350259; reserved seats are not guaranteed after 6 PM.

AWiB would like to proudly acknowledge its partners for the year.