Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing young people in Ethiopia. For start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs, capital and business mentorship are difficult to access. Young entrepreneurs present a unique opportunity to create employment for themselves and their peers.

To address the challenge of access to capital and technical business development skills, Vita is implementing The Enhancing Job Opportunities and Employability for Youth and Women (EnJOY) project. The project attracts vibrant entrepreneurs with viable business plans to an Innovative Business Idea Competition (IBIC).

The 2023 business pitch competition saw several innovative and viable entrepreneurs walk away with cash prizes to implement their ideas and scale their businesses.

Filmon Mamo came first in the competition bagging 100.000.00 ETB (1,711 Euro) cash as seed capital for his innovative diary project.

“My business will improve access and availability of healthy and affordable cow’s milk for my community and beyond. I will take advantage of my village’s geographical location to develop the milk value chain for myself and other farmers in the region. Developing the milk value chain will enable farmers earn more from their milk while, households will have access to affordable and healthy milk,” he says.

Filmon says he will use the profits generated to expand the business and support his parents.

“Life has not been easy. To support myself and my parents, I engaged in low paying jobs. I have always wanted to start a business because I knew it would improve our standard of living and give me better income,” says Filmon.

Filmon acquired skills in business idea generation, business plan development, management, and budgeting from the training.

Filmon’s ambitions are to turn this small milk processing business into a large dairy processing company.

Runner-up in the pitching competition is 25-year-old Zekiya Rahimeto. Zekiya has been unemployed since she graduated from university over three years ago. She was awarded 80,000.00 ETB (1,368 Euro) cash to implement a fast food business that will source farm produce directly from local farmers. She says her business will provide a ready market for farmers while serving fresh and scrumptious meals to the customers at an affordable price.

“I graduated three years ago. In these years, I have not found suitable employment. It has been extremely difficult to provide for myself without an income. When I heard about the IBIC competition, I knew it was time I created employment for my myself and other young women,” she says.

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                                                      Zekiya Rahimeto pitching her innovative business.

Zekiya adds that the technical finance and budgeting skills she got from the training will accelerate her business’s growth.

“The impact of the training goes beyond the cash prize. The technical skills that I have gotten will help me grow and expand my business. Among the skills I got from the training are market research and survey knowledge for business growth. I believe having these skills will make my business competitive and successful,” she says.

Zekiya is optimistic that her business will create employment for among unemployed young women.

Vita and its strategic partners will continue to mentor and monitor these young entrepreneurs. We will continue to build capacity in business management, provide linkages to local micro-finance institutions, local credit unions and other like-minded entrepreneurs.