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About the Ethiopian American

The Ethiopian American is a non-political business magazine published by the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum and serves the Ethiopian Diaspora business community in the United States. The Ethiopian American magazine is annual printed to as the Forum's annual magazine addressing issues specifically addressed at the Forum. The Forum's and the Ethiopian American's principal focus is on Diaspora businesses and investment matters. In 2011, the Forum began the Pioneer Diaspora Awards, which recognises individuals for their pioneering contributions in their respective areas of business specialisation. In 2014, the Forum introduced the Diaspora Business Champion Awards to recognize and promote individuals or organizations who have supported the Ethiopian American Diaspora community both in the United States and Ethiopia.

 

About the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum

The Amharic adage that roughly translates to “it gets darker when a new day is about to break” perhaps is equivalent to the English “it gets worse before it gets better”.

But little, if at all, did the group of young Ethiopian Diaspora professionals in North America know that their extreme frustration from the lack of sustainable link between the Diaspora community and their homeland, in fact was a sign something new and big was about to start. They may never thought of this famous Ethiopian motivational maxim when, eight years ago, they began discussing on ways to embark on something unprecedented. May be, they were also not sure how far their plan would go. They simply wanted to engage the Diaspora community to spur dialogue within the Diaspora community and to build a bridge with their country of birth, Ethiopia. Fortunately, they were not the only ones with this vision of raising the issue of contributing to Ethiopia in a meaningful way.

The timing of their initiative coincided with the launch of a new web-based community magazine, The Ethiopian American, a non-partisan magazine, which was also looking for ways to engage the Ethiopian Diaspora community on key issues affecting the community.

In 2004, the magazine and the young professionals joined forces to stage one of their successful public events, a lecture by Getachew Mengistie, who at the time was the Director General of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO). The purpose of the lecture was to educate the Ethiopian Diaspora on the substance of Ethiopia’s trademark dispute with the Starbucks Corporation on the use of Ethiopia’s most famous coffee names: Keffa, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe. The group assisted both the EIPO and Oxfam in mobilizing 100,000 petitions against Starbucks.

The success of the lecture and the awareness it created within the Ethiopian community in the United States contributed to Starbucks’ eventual recognition of Ethiopia’s right to the aforementioned trademarks.

Buoyed by the success of the lecture series, the magazine and its partners began to look for ways to enhance and extend the dialogue to a larger audience, including for ways to spur investment and trade in Ethiopia. In June 2005, the magazine began a new chapter by organizing the first Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum (the “Forum”) with the generous financial support of USAID/VEGA Ethiopian AGOA + and several Diaspora businesses.

Eight years later, the Forum has grew in every aspect and is going strong, empowering the Diaspora business community with valuable information and enabling the community to participate in Ethiopia’s economy and development in a meaningful way.

Since the launch of the Forum, many important issues have been tackled, and valuable information have been shared with the Diaspora community in the areas of nostalgic trade, trade and investment with Ethiopia and the United States, the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), trade and investment financing and related regulatory affairs.  

Specifically, over the years, the Forum has proved an effective platform for the Diaspora community to exchange ideas and critically important information about the overall economic situation back home, the opportunities and challenges of investing in Ethiopia, among other major issues.  The Forum has also focused on providing information on financing for Diaspora investors, both in the US and in Ethiopia, and on useful tips on how to improve the odds of success.   

“Many of our participants have gone on to invest in Ethiopia and support their loved ones and the economy of Ethiopia,” said Yohannes Assefa, the convener of the Forum. Each year brings new possibilities and challenges. “Each year, the Forum makes every effort to provide guidance on taking advantage of the opportunities and find solutions for the challenges. Each year, the Forum comes up with innovative ways of conveying key messages the Diaspora wants to make informed decisions,” added Yohannes.

Last year, the 7th year anniversary of the Forum was loudly and colorfully celebrated with a one day symposium and an awards dinner where Zemedeneh Nigatu, MD of Ernset & Young Ethiopia and Tadiows G. Belete, CEO of Boston Partners, were honored as a pioneer Diaspora businessperson.  Thomas Debass, Director for Gloal Partnership in the Office of then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was the keynote speaker.  Among others, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Airlines, The George Washington University, Fairfax Technologies, ModernETH, Diageo, eClipse, Precise Consult International, Kabu Cafe and BGI Ethiopia were major sponsors of the event.  

The community lectures and the Forums have greatly contributed to the growing social and business relationship between the Diaspora community and Ethiopia. “The success of these events and activities were largely achieved due to the support and assistance of USAID and many volunteers who have supported the event”, says Yohannes.

This year’s program looks at Ethiopia's major economic activity, agriculture and will continue the past seven year’s productive and informative exchange of views and information, according to Yohannes.  

 

 

The 2016 PIONEER ETHIOPIAN DIASPORA BUSINESS PERSON AWARDS

The Pioneer Award is bestowed up on Diaspora entrepreneurs who have introduced innovation(s) in business that have significantly and positively affected business practices with long-term results in Ethiopia or in the Diaspora. This year's Awards Dinner will be held on August 6, 2016 at The City View Room overlooking the City of Washington DC at The George Washington University 7.30PM to 10.30PM.

It is to be recalled that the 2015 Pioneer Ethiopian Diaspora Business Person Awards was awarded to unique and deserving individuals: Dr. Akeza Teame, Founder & Medical Director, St. Yared Hospital and the American Medical Center, and Ato Tamrat Bekele, Founder & CEO of International Clinical Laboratories. The 2016 Pioneer Ethiopian Diaspora Business Person Awards Committee will announce the winner(s) of this year's Award very soon. Stay tuned!!!

Photos: Past Events