On 25-26 July 2017, a master class was conducted by the British Council. The event was attended by 52 government officials and policy influencers who represented a range of public and private institutions. The training programme incorporated intensive learning sessions on different topics intended to develop adequate skills and knowledge in social enterprise policy formulation. The subjects covered included what a social enterprise is, social enterprise and policy, policy examples and lessons.
The policy dialogue was also held on the evening of 25 July 2017 and it was officially opened by the British Council Ethiopia Director, Peter Brown. This was attended by 76 participants drawn from a range of stakeholder groups and institutions. The event brought together policy-makers, academics, private sector, (impact) investors, international and national development partners, civil society groups and social entrepreneurs.
Wubet Girma, the Regional Team Leader of the EU-funded Support for Social Enterprises in Eastern Africa project, justified the necessity for such platforms as follows: "In August 2016, we hosted the first social enterprise stakeholders’ consultation workshop commencing a social enterprise sector mapping and survey. A validation workshop was further organised in January 2017 intended to enrich the findings through a stakeholders’ consultation process. Participants have evidently showed shared interest and recommended further dialogues to strengthen existing initiatives on social enterprises. Recognising the need to discuss further on some of the key research findings, we have organised yet another gathering, which now focuses on social enterprises and finance."
During the policy dialogue event, the British Council also launched a two-page factsheet publication that portrays the state of social enterprises in Ethiopia. The factsheet facilitated informed and research-based panel discussion under the theme "Social Enterprises and Access to Finance". The panellists were Bruktawit Tigabu, founder of Whiz Kids Workshop; Kebour Ghena, Executive Director of Initiative Africa and the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Dan Gregory, a Consultant from Social Enterprise UK.
The panel discussion addressed a range of issues under the following major topics.
- The current experience of social enterprises in accessing capital, the income streams and business models of social enterprises and how secure or risky they are
- Alternative finance provisions available in the market; requirements and features; strategy, policy, and fund management
- The demand for finance in the Ethiopian social enterprises space, the gaps in the market, and social enterprises’ investment readiness.
Following the speeches of the panellists, the participants conducted warm interactive discussions. The policy dialogue was closed by a speech by Dr. Mebrhatu Meles, State Minister of Industry. Dr. Mebrhatu viewed the event as very useful in dealing with the finance related issues of the social enterprise business in which the Government of Ethiopia has interest. He expressed his commitment and dedication to support the efforts of the British Council and all other key actors to promote the social enterprise movement in Ethiopia.