Event Recap for june Event, truth be told: Indigenous private sectors and their challenges

A thriving private sector is crucial to spur economic growth. This month, AWiB brought to the stage three knowledgable  and successful business people to speak the truth behind challenges faced.

Salahadin Khalifa, is the Chairman of MCC groups that is one of the partners of AWiB. He is also the GM of Kadisco Chemical Industry since 17 years ago. Salahadin  founded and have been managing Samatra Logistics since 1998. He returned from the United Kingdom to make a visible contribution to his company and country at large.

Salahadin spoke heavily about lack of collaboration within the private sector. He explained that business person(s) engaged in the private sector need to create associations within their industries, join efforts and make full use of opportunities presented.

Aster Solomon, one of the founding members of AWiB, co-founder of Enat bank and General Manager (GM) of GIS Service Company has over 20 years of experience in both government and private sectors. With rich experience in establishing and managing businesses and large scale projects, Aster explained that challenges faced in the private sector include finding and retaining skilled labor and finding reliable partners to effectively collaborate on business ventures. Aster noted that in her case, she found a partner whom she has been able to successfully work with for the past 19 years. However, this is not the case for many others. Aster explained that culture/tradition plays a heavy role when forging partnerships. Many of us are not transparent enough and do not speak our mind which greatly hinders successful collaboration. And unless we collaborate, we cannot grow explained Aster. 

Other challenges outlined by Aster include, fear of risk taking. Aster took a risk by leaving her Government job with guaranteed salary to open her own business. Nowadays, the risk is much more heightened due to high sums of investment required to start up a business. This barricades many entrepreneurs from starting their own ventures. In addition there is limited resources available from financial institutions with a wide array of bureaucratic red tape to access funds to start up a business explained Aster.

“We must take on some of the responsibilities for our slow paced growth” said Aster. As managers and heads of businesses, we need to be role models, helping guide our workforce by portraying determination, commitment, punctuality and tenacity. 

Our third and last speaker for the evening was Tsedey Hailu- a returnee from the United Kingdom with a wealth of legal expertise. Tsedey came to Ethiopia on a mission to serve her country, to research and make others aware about the commercial legal framework in Ethiopia. She focused more specifically on anti- competitive business/trade practices.

To be successful, one has to attract a number of customers. This is done through standing out amongst your competitors. When entering into the market, we have a responsibility to act appropriately as per the existing legal framework. Competing fairly isn’t about selling at a lower price, it is about winning the hearts of your customers explained Tsedey.

After the speakers presented, the floor was open to a lively and thought provoking discussion. During the discussion, members explained that one of the biggest challenges with sectoral associations is lack of empowerment, lack of active involvement amongst its members and limited access to finances. 

With regards to market dominance, a question posed by Tsedey, it was noted that market dominance is not illegal per-se. What is indeed illegal is using ones dominance to create an uncompetitive market by selling a product below its production cost. This is outright abusive explained Tsedey.  

In concluding this evening, it was noted that there is a culture of complacency in Ethiopia. There are policies and legal frameworks already in place, granted although they can be improved it is still there and you must fully utilize it. Secondly, although challenges vary amongst the sectors, it is important to know your rights as a professional then be bold and daring enough to demand your rights. 

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