Women entrepreneurs have undeniably been major contributors to this unprecedented era of growth and prosperity in the country. However, the proportion of women who have benefited from this massive growth is very low.

On July 1, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association (EWEA) jointly organized an expert’s workshop on two related topics; “Restructuring of the Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association” and “Integrating Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs into the Flourishing Industrial Parks. Both topics are integral to contributing to allowing woman entrepreneurs to flourish in the country. Guests from the House of People’s representatives, regional presidents of entrepreneur associations, and representatives from the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Revenue and Customs Authority and various other government representatives attended the event.

Ato Getaneh Abate, an independent consultant, presented on the ongoing restructuring processes of the EWEA. These changes are aligned with the current legal framework based on the Proclamation No. 341/2003, which recognizes the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, the Ethiopian Chamber of Sectoral Associations as well as regional and woreda level offshoots and city chambers as the officially recognized representatives of the business community. This framework had left other business organizations such as EWEA in a legal limbo (half way) and has deprived them of legitimacy.

Ato Abraham Worku, emphasized options on how to integrate EWEA into the flourishing industrial parks of Ethiopia. He elaborated on the possible business opportunities for women entrepreneurs within the existing and upcoming industrial park development ventures. He stressed the importance of assessing existing ‘industries’ run by Ethiopian women entrepreneurs and their capacity as suppliers of raw-materials and semi processed products for the textile, garment, apparel and leather industries within industrial parks as this helps in creating opportunities where women entrepreneurs can add value.

A future EWEA five-year action plan was thoroughly discussed during the proceedings. The project’s main objective is map out clearer capacity building strategies for EWEA and its member associations.

During the discussions, there emerged a clear understanding that the involvement of women entrepreneurs in shaping of the private sector development in Ethiopia should be strengthened from now on.