The British Council and Pioneers Post had announced the first award for social enterprise journalism in Ethiopia. The award was open to all practising journalists working and based in the country and the winner will be announced at the Social Enterprise World Forum, which takes place in the capital Addis Ababa on 23-25 October.
The competition aims to encourage rigorous reporting on social entrepreneurship and to showcase quality journalism in this field. The winner and the runner up will be given the opportunity to join a special Study Tour of Social Enterprise and Media in the UK. The Winner will also speak during the SEWF event.
There are an estimated 55,000 social enterprises in Ethiopia, according to British Council research in 2017. Many journalists cover entrepreneurship and social change issues, but may not be aware of social enterprise or what it means – while social entrepreneurs are keen for the media to have a better understanding and provide more coverage of their work.
The announcement of the new award followed a week of journalism training and engagement hosted by the British Council in Addis Ababa in June 2019. Delivered by Pioneers Post, some 35 social entrepreneurs were given tools and tips for better storytelling and building stronger relationships with the media – getting a chance to ‘pitch’ their story to a group of national journalists at the end of their training.
After meeting the social enterprises, journalists from leading media organisations in Ethiopia spent two days with the Pioneers Post and British Council teams, learning more about the global context of social enterprise, exploring the concept of “solutions journalism” and considering the big stories that might inspire their readers, listeners and viewers in the lead up to the World Forum.
The journalists also visited trailblazing Addis-based social enterprise Tebita Ambulance, whose founder and CEO Kibret Abebe is also president of the fledgeling network body, Social Enterprise Ethiopia.
This year’s Social Enterprise World Forum is the 12th edition, but the first to take place in both Africa or in a developing country. Organisers expect to welcome 1,200 delegates from around the world.
This new award also marks a first for the Social Enterprise World Forum itself – since it is the first time that social enterprise journalism has been recognised in this way at the annual event.
Speaking to the combined audience of social entrepreneurs and journalists during the training week, the British Council’s Ethiopia country director Peter Brown said SEWF would be “a massive event”.
Commenting on the “winds of change” currently sweeping through the country, Brown said: “The time is absolutely right... There’s a real role for social enterprise to make a really valuable contribution to Ethiopia’s growth and transformation.”
Asked about the value of working with journalists, Kibret Abebe said more media coverage of social enterprises would “really change the game”. Tebita Ambulances currently gets around 20-30 calls from citizens needing emergency medical help each day, but he said could serve many more people if they were aware of the company’s services.
Tim West, founding editor of Pioneers Post, who was part of the training team and will be speaking at SEWF2019, said: “We’ve been incredibly impressed with the level of engagement and enthusiasm that Ethiopia’s journalists have shown during our time with them in Addis, so I’m really looking forward to seeing this reflected in entries for the journalism award.
“Ethiopia’s story of positive growth now has a new dimension thanks to the growing community of trailblazing social entrepreneurs who are finding new ways to build the economy and foster social progress in their country and communities.”