Noting the Legacy in Ethiopia

By Tesfu Telahoun Abebe – While I have long been thoroughly fed up with CNN’s near total preoccupation since 2016 with near frantic Trump centric programming, I do enjoy the channel’s excellent documentaries.

One such is a series of very short films entitled, ‘The 100 Club’, in which five legacy (100 years or older) companies are profiled each week. Whenever I tune in to the series, a feather-light alert buzzer sweeps through my brain matter-it is my subconscious’ way of telling me it’s found a link in a memory file. And just yesterday, my conscious self finally made the connection!

In a speech delivered sometime during the honeymoon phase of the Abiy phenomena, the prime minister made a fleeting mention of the virtual absence in Ethiopia of 100 year old companies. It was in reference to a point he was making about the relative ease of establishing an enterprise compared to the monumental challenge of keeping it going.

The PM is correct on both counts although if we do look hard-very hard-we can find a few family owned businesses which have been operational for a century or more.

However, we do have some larger companies, organizations and other firms which are well into their seventh or eighth decade of existence.

This diverse list would include flagship airline Ethiopian, Ethiotelecom, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, St. George ‘s FC and Ras and Taitu hotels. We can refer to these venerable and still operational establishments as ‘Legacy Companies’-or LCs.

I determined that a list of such companies could be a useful tidbit for research purposes or just plain general knowledge. After all, as so called privatization of key economic pillars casts a fearful shadow, it won’t hurt to list the few assets we have before they switch registration to Mauritius and or Panama!

I sat down fully expecting to find scores if not a hundred or so Ethiopian companies or organizations which would best meet a few basic conditions of my checklist.

Checklist of Legacy Company in Ethiopia

1. Longevity-minimum of 35 years since establishment.

2. Consistency-maintaining quality of service and/or product from date of establishment to the present day.

3. Public Image-sustained popularity and ‘earned brand loyalty’ among consumers and clients.

4. Indigenous Integrity-is the entity wholly Ethiopian owned? If not, to what extent is the foreign component? Is it still distinctly Ethiopian?

5. Originality-how similar and recognizable is current service and/or product to original design, branding and logo and packaging?

I leave to you the reader the task of ranking the sampling of companies I have selected. I would welcome more nominations so please send in your contributions.

Based on these criteria I give you the following entities to consider as
Ethiopia’s Legacy Companies:

1.Ethiopian Airlines
2. Ambo Mineral Water
3. Anbessa Shoes
4. Tomoca Coffee
5. Taitu Hotel
6. Ras Hotel
7. Ghion Hotel
8. Mugher Cement
9. Dantechnocraft
10. Rainbow Foam & Plastic
11. Berhanena Selam Press
12 Shoa Bakery
13- Bekele Molla Hotels