Ethiopia’s Economy Benefits from Returning Diaspora

Boston Spa
Boston Spa

At a salon in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, customer Erica Kanesa relaxes in a leather chair.

“I’m just doing manicure and pedicure,” she says, leaning her head back while a beautician works on her nails.

Spa businesses in Ethiopia are thriving because the country’s middle class is expanding, and also because of the efforts of one man.

Tadios Getaco (should be Getachew) Belete was born in Ethiopia, but – like many – he fled in the 1970s when an oppressive communist government took over. He settled in the United States and eventually opened a successful salon in an upscale part of Boston.

After a new Ethiopian government took power, Tadios decided to move home. He says the decision was partly sentimental, but it also made good business sense.

“Anyone with a good smell of business can feel and sense [that] there is an opportunity here,” Tadios says. So he decided to do something that no one in Ethiopia had yet done – open a luxury spa.

“I was the first one, and everyone was laughing at me, ‘You’ll not get any customers,’” he says. “But, surprisingly enough, we had an amazing turnout. Now we have about 89 spas.”

Today, his company employs more than 1,500 people.

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