New venture to link 500 Ethiopian SMEs with market, investors

A new joint venture between Premier Investment Consults, and BEHAK Multimedia, two private companies registered in Ethiopia, is set to brand and market high quality products of 500 Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs).

The partnership also seeks to find potential investment partners and financers for the 500 SMEs engaged in leather, garments, traditional clothes, agro-processing, furniture, steel, jewelries and artifacts, among others.

“The main objective of this partnership is to select best products manufacturing SMEs in Ethiopia, produce branding materials, and promote them globally. The ultimate goal of producing branding materials and global promotion campaign is to help these SMEs find additional market, and finance from around the world,” says Woubishet Sissay, Project Coordinator at BEHAK Multimedia PLC, the private company which has been engaged in providing media related solutions in Ethiopia for the past years.

The branding materials being produced includes the production of print and digital versions of ‘Ethiopian Products Catalog 2022: Promising 500 Manufacturing SMEs Looking for Market, and Investors’, according to Mr. Woubishet. “After the production of these and other branding materials, a 365 days digital marketing campaign will be launched globally,” he said.

In addition to the digital marketing campaign, the printed branding materials with profiles of each SME will also be distributed in thousands of copies across the world, and in Ethiopia, according to the agreement the two companies have signed on Friday May 20, 2022.

According to the latest annual report of the National Bank of Ethiopia, credit to micro and small enterprises in Ethiopia has declined by 34 percent during the last budget year of Ethiopia 2020/21 to 5 billion Birr compared to the preceding budget year.

The total number of micro and small enterprises operating in Ethiopia in 2020/21 has increased to 115,200 from 111,547, according to the report. Even though the number of Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) has increased during the budget 2020/21, close to one million people (984,044) who were working in the MSEs have lost their jobs.

The total number of employments by MSEs, which was 1,569,163 in 2019/20, has dropped to 585,119 in 2020/21 (Ethiopian budget year began July 8, 2020), according to according to the annual report of the state agency NBE, which didn’t explain the reason.

“The joint program we launched with BEHAK is a very ambitious one that may require us a few millions of dollars to execute it,” says Melaku Kinfegabriel, General manager of Premier Investment Consults, a certified business advisory firm, which has been in business in Ethiopia for the past several years.
“Meanwhile we shouldn’t ignore the challenges of the SMEs in Ethiopia just because supporting them is costly. Or leave everything hoping that someone else or the government may one day address their challenges,” he says.

“We believe that even with our limited resources, we can help the SMEs to utilize the opportunities they are currently missing out at continental and global level,” says Mr. Melaku, stressing that the intention of the partnership is to strengthen the capacity of the promising SMEs of Ethiopia engaged in manufacturing high quality products benefit from the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and other market opportunities.

“Instead of ignoring the challenges of the SMEs, and the opportunities they are missing out, we have decided to start small and bring aboard more partners along the way,” Mr. Melaku says. “In fact, the promise and encouragement we are now getting from domestic and foreign partners, including big businesses in Ethiopia, NGOs and development partners, is giving us the energy to move forward,” he says.

BEHAK Multimedia will be in charge of producing branding materials and promoting them globally, according to the deal the two sides have inked. While Premier Investment Consults will take care of approaching potential angel investors, venture capitalists mainly active in Africa, as well as other financers to invest in the selected 500 Ethiopian SMEs engaged in manufacturing of high quality products.

Premier also facilitates sending sample products, arranging factory visits, asset valuation and related studies as per the interests of the SMEs and those show interest to work with them.