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Innovation incubator Addis

With almost 70m reported mobile subscribers in Ethiopia and ever-increasing internet access of up to 35% of the population, there is a wealth of opportunity for the local startup ecosystem.

Today I met with iceaddis, Ethiopia's first innovation hub and tech startup incubator, founded over 10 years ago. In addition to the many partnerships with leading private and public sector organisations and the successful portfolio of startups, what stands out for me is how this is a community. A hub where founders are supported with the tools, the knowledge and the network to turn their ideas into commercially viable propositions.

Markos Lemma Co-Founder and CEO shared how iceaddis is open to working with all sectors. While tech-led organisations are at the core, there is a strong demand to work with creative sectors including textiles and fashion design, where Ethiopia often demonstrates more advanced production techniques than many of their neighbours. 

Ethiopia is set to shake off the mantle of a "silent startup system" where much of the opportunity is within the local economy. Business support is in place at iceaddis to navigate access to global markets. The strong talent pool is in demand in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Israel, as not only are they entrepreneurs but also skilled developers, designers, and more.

As with many economies, there are challenges that once addressed will help expedite growth including ready access to capital finance and an appetite for shared risk. If there was to be any call-to-action it would be for the local enabling policy and regulation to be expedited.

As I left the office, with the amazing view over Addis Ababa, Yonael Marga fashion brand was being ushered into the meeting room to discuss the exciting next steps in scaling up their startup, in partnership with iceaddis

If you would like to find out more, please visit the iceaddis website.

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