Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Troy Fitrell at SolveIt! Reception

Troy Fitrell
U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affairs
at Solve It! Reception
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa
September 21, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)  

Good afternoon and thank you all for coming.

First, I want to congratulate each of you for being here – a huge accomplishment all by itself.

You’ve been selected because you had an idea for a solution to a problem that you saw in your own community.  And more than that, you took that idea and made it a reality.

Almost anyone can identify a problem.  And many people can suggest a solution to a problem, but it takes something special to solve it.

The United States is a committed partner to Ethiopia’s success.  And recent developments – including Prime Minister Abiy’s ambitions reform plan – have given all of us hope that we have chance to achieve the bright future that all Ethiopians want and deserve.

That is why we are investing in Ethiopia’s future – and that means you.  The SolveIt! competition is an investment in your capacity to solve the challenges in your communities.

All of you have exceeded our expectations in coming up with creative solutions to everyday needs, whether saving lives, improving agricultural output, or building tools to support economic inclusion.  Your projects have the potential to change – even save – lives if they can be scaled up properly and sustainably.

And that’s why we brought you here for a week-long boot camp instead of just an awards ceremony.  You’ve had the chance to work with accomplished mentors to further develop your ideas as well as your ability to develop and pitch a business proposal for potential investors.

You have also visited centers of innovation here in Addis to see how others are working on their own solutions to Ethiopia’s challenges.

At tomorrow you will get to actually make your case to potential partners who can help you take your ideas even further, and you will wrap things up with a public display of your incredible projects.

But make no mistake, the journey won’t end here.  Whether you leave Addis with an investment in hand or not, we hope you will keep going.  You will have made new connections, heard others’ ideas that might complement your own, and opened new opportunities that may not be apparent just yet.

In that sense, you’ve already won by making it this far.  You’ve shown us that an investment in you is a good one.  You’ve shown us that you have what it takes to identify a challenge and solve it.

That’s what Ethiopia needs now more than ever and we are so proud to be part of your journey.  We can’t wait to see what comes next.

Once again, congratulations!.