The Mastercard Foundation and the Ethiopian Youth Entrepreneurs Association (EYEA) have joined forces to initiate the Enable Youth Entrepreneurs in Ethiopia (EYE) project. This collaborative effort, formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in August 2023 with a project cost of $234,000 secured from the Mastercard Foundation, aims to deliver tailored entrepreneurship development training for 50 youth innovators.
Participating young entrepreneurs will undergo comprehensive training, equipping them with the necessary skills to develop competitive businesses. Among those entrepreneurs, the best 15 youth will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to angel investors and financial service providers in January 2024, with the goal of securing crucial funds and investments.
Speaking to Shega, Neftalem Binyam, the EYEA program manager, highlighted the significance of this pitch event as a pivotal step in supporting the youth innovators.
The EYE project has already accepted applications from five university incubation centers, namely Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, Adama Science and Technology University, Dire Dawa University, Hawassa University, and Jimma University.
Beyond this intervention area, the EYE project aims to develop a strategic plan, establish institutional capacity to implement the strategy effectively, and support the continuation of ‘Zelela,’ the association’s regular policy dialogue platform.
EYEA has been hosting Zelela connecting youth founders with key stakeholders, such as government officials and investors. This networking initiative extends beyond mere connections, offering invaluable opportunities for policy advocacy and other forms of support.
Established in December 2020, EYEA advocates for an active startup ecosystem that enables youth entrepreneurs to realize their potential with innovative and tech-based products and services in Ethiopia. To date, the Association has partnered with governmental organizations, development partners, and private entities to launch several projects.
In addition to these endeavors, EYEA and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) have jointly launched KENA, an advisory service offering capacity-building and mentorship to young startup founders. KENA collaborates with CBE to provide financial services and exposure for youth entrepreneurs, contributing to the creation of a robust business ecosystem for job creation and wealth creation in Ethiopia.