"The United Nations Development Programme in Ethiopia announced the appointment of its Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship at a high profile event held in Addis Ababa drawing members of the government, private sector and development partners.
Ms. Bethlehem Tilahun, owner of the globally recognized and feted eco-friendly Sole Rebel shoe, was selected by UNDP Ethiopia in recognition of her inspirational role for budding entrepreneurs in the country.
UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors are at the top of their field and share a deep concern for the world's poor and a commitment to making the planet a better place for all, ridding it of poverty, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, protecting human rights, and empowering women. Goodwill Ambassadors use their fame to help amplify the urgent and universal message of human development. They also strongly articulate the UNDP development philosophy and programmes of self-reliant opportunities and motivate people to act in the interest of improving their own lives and those of their fellow citizens.
In a special message read at the event, Ethiopian First Lady Roman Tesfaye reflected that, “Empowering Ethiopians, especially women and girls, is an issue close to my heart. And there is no one who better to serve as a role model for them than Bethlehem.”
UNDP Ethiopia Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu, noted Ethiopia's Growth and Transformation Plan sets a bold vision for Ethiopia to become a middle income country by 2025. Fundamental to achieving this vision, is the rapid growth of local industries, including micro and small businesses, and the promotion of the private sector as an engine of growth.
Speaking on the nomination of Bethlehem, Mr. Owusu said,”…she is not just helping to create jobs for members of her community; she is helping to place Ethiopia at the forefront of a growing export industry.”
The Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) was launched by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February 2013 as a partnership between the UNDP and Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction. The EDP helps Ethiopia tap into the creative drive of the country's entrepreneurs, particularly the youth and women to bring about transformational change. In 2014, the programme, through the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC) partnered with the Office of the First Lady and the Centre for Accelerated Women's Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) and Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency (FeMSEDA) to help connect 1,500 women to the export market.
Minister of the Urban Development, Housing and Constructions H.E. Mekuria Haile said, “It is my firm belief that in line with the strategic direction set in the Growth and Transformation Plan, the Entrepreneurship Development Programme will significantly contribute to the development of a private sector led manufacturing and service industries.”
“My mission is to encourage the amazing and wonderful entrepreneurial energies we have in Ethiopia, so we generate a new wave of entrepreneurs,” the new UNDP Ethiopia Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship Bethlehem Tilahun said upon recieving her letter of appointment.
The Entrepreneurship Development Programme is currently budgeted for 26 million USD and has recently brought on board a number of partners including Canada, Italy and Microsoft East Africa to target 200,000 Ethiopians who will receive training and access to business development services. A newly established Innovation Financing Facility will help address critical challenge of micro and small enterprises' access to finance through facilitating the availability of soft loans, grants, private equity and venture capital."