iceaddis is a startup support organization that has been established in 2011. It was co-founded by Markos Lemma who saw the youth in Addis Abeba had nowhere to go to test, build and grow their innovative business ideas.
iceaddis itself can be considered an innovative business as it was also established in a challenging time in Ethiopia to start a technology hub. On an ecosystem discussion organized in 2019, Markos mentioned iceaddis was launched at a time where Ethiopia only had 0.48 internet penetration which made its launch a daring one.
The ice in iceaddis stands for innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship, the values iceaddis lives by. iceaddis was inspired by iHub in Kenya to support the tech community in Ethiopia and provide a space for startups to explore their ideas.
Ever since its establishment iceaddis has been engaged in multiple initiatives to support startups and positively impact the technology scene in Ethiopia. These initiatives include an incubation, acceleration program, a consulting service, and ecosystem promotion.
Initially, iceaddis was focused on developing the Ethiopian tech community and giving pre-incubation support. iceaddis gradually became a business incubation hub that supports early-stage startups. It developed ice180, a 180-day incubation support program. It provides tailored training, coaching, and mentorship that is based on the specific needs of entrepreneurs. The other two incubation initiatives of the hub are GIAS & the recently launched Creative Hub.
ice focuses on high potential, high-impact technology, and tech-enabled companies. Based on observed demand and growing expertise ice slowly ventured to run acceleration programs. So far it has launched and run three acceleration programs namely the Jumpstart acceleration program, The Good Business accelerator & Evolver, and Bloom. 31 startups have been supported by the acceleration program so far.
iceaddis takes 10% equity from the startups in its incubation programs. In its 10-year run, It has supported 76 startups and over 160 entrepreneurs through its programs.
In addition to incubation and acceleration, iceaddis organizes innovation competitions, hackathons & networking events with its partners. This helps startups to gain visibility, engage with the community, and receive some form of funding. 300 competitions and events have been hosted by iceaddis so far.
Capitalizing on its accumulated knowledge on business incubation and startup support, iceaddis also launched its Hub-in-a-Box consulting service with sister icehubs. The service is designed to equip organizations, and universities to build their own hubs, to increase the capacity of existing hubs and their support programs. iceaddis has gone beyond Ethiopia to South Sudan, South Africa, and Somalia with this service. It has also helped universities and TVET centers in Ethiopia set up innovation hubs.
In a conversation with Shega, Markos said, “It is not sustainable to run a hub that is dependent on external financial support. As a startup support hub that enables ideas to gain a scalable sustainable income we had to live what we preach and launch a business.”
In addition to its business support and consulting service, iceaddis promotes the Ethiopian startup ecosystem. It does this by taking part in and actively engaging in continental and international startup, tech, and innovation networks such as AfriLabs & GIG.
Driven by its aspiration to serve startups, iceaddis vigorously advocates changes in national policies and regulations hindering the growth of the startup ecosystem in Ethiopia. It has been working with i4Policy, a Pan-African initiative to influence regulations and policies in other African countries as well.
Markos told Shega, “iceaddis is very excited to see how the sector will grow with new initiatives such as Ethiopia’s Startup Proclamation and online business registration from the Ethiopian Government.”
iceaddis celebrated its 10th-year anniversary in May 2021. The celebration was organized into a 5-day event with multiple engaging activities aimed at bringing the ecosystem together. The activities included panel discussions on critical topics, startups pitching their businesses, and company visits. At the event, iceaddis also launched icehawassa.
Speaking about future plans for the hub, Markos stated, “Working with startups at the heart, iceaddis plans to scale all its ongoing engagements and plans to grow into a startup accelerator fund that invests in high potential, high impact, sustainable ventures in the coming years.”