The U.S. government is committed to promoting entrepreneurship in Ethiopia as a means to stimulate local economic growth, open new markets for U.S. companies, and increase global prosperity. The annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), taking place November 12-18, 2018, is designed to celebrate self-starting innovators and connect entrepreneurs to potential collaborators, mentors, and investors. Since its inception in 2008, GEW has fostered the spirit of entrepreneurship globally each November with millions of participants at thousands of events in nearly 170 countries.
To celebrate GEW, the U.S. Embassy in collaboration with Humanity Plus (H+) and iCog Labs, launched SolveIT! 2019, a nationwide innovation competition to encourage young Ethiopians to address community issues through the application of software, hardware and other technologies. The competition also supports youths to develop innovative projects, promote entrepreneurship, and solve local problems through technology. Ten cities will participate in the SolvieIT! 2019competition: Addis Ababa, Assosa, Dire Dawa, Bahir Dar, Gambella, Hawassa, Jigjiga, Jimma, Mekelle and Semera.
At the launch ceremony, the top three winners from the SolveIt! 2018 competition shared their experiences and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Members of the first-place team discussed the challenges of balancing their project with their school requirements, and detailed their experience with a material failure that required a redesign of their oxygen therapy device. They stressed that future participants and aspiring entrepreneurs need to be prepared to work through their challenges, learn from mistakes, and to keep trying until they succeed.
The U.S. Embassy, Humanity Plus, and iCog Labs organized the first SolveIT! competition in 2018, which received more than 1,600 registrations across nine cities in Ethiopia, offered 90 technical and entrepreneurial training sessions, mentored teams who developed 85 innovative products and services, and brought 31 teams to the National Round.
By supporting and developing an eco-system that promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology, the U.S. Embassy is investing the capacity of Ethiopians to shape their future. U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor noted, “…as Ethiopia embarks on the hard work of building its brighter future, there will be challenges. But as this competition shows, challenges exist to be solved, and the challenges Ethiopia faces will be solved first and foremost by Ethiopians.”