Markos Lemma is the founder of iceaddis, Ethiopia’s first innovation hub that works with young people to support them realize their entrepreneur dream. According to him, iceaddis is designed to foster innovation, the connection of great minds and help create collaboration. Here he reflects with The Reporter’s Samuel Getachew on his innovative enterprise, its challenges and highlights and reflects on his experience traveling the world and discovering why the world is becoming one big village. Excerpts:
The Reporter: iceaddis is known as Ethiopia’s first innovation hub started in 2011. What exactly does it do?
Markos Lemma: We support individuals to realize their great ideas to a viable business. Our mission is to build technology-based entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ethiopia. iceaddis incubates startups to become great companies. Through our incubation program called ice180, we support 10 high-potential startups annually.
The program is designed in a way that it fosters innovation, connecting great minds, and creating a collaborative environment. We give young people a place to co-work, provide mentorship and coaching, run expert design contextual workshops and boot camps, and networking opportunity.
How was it started?
Being the first innovation hub and incubator in the country, we started by asking simple questions like “where do Ethiopian young and creative individuals go if they want to realize their great ideas to a viable business?”, “As a young person, where do you go to start your entrepreneurial journey”. The questions seem simple but the answers are complex.
We started in the umbrella of GIZ and EiABC in 2011 and registered as a private entity in 2014. Back then, the internet coverage was only 0.4 percent of the total population, there was limited information how to start a business in Ethiopia. No angel investors. So we wanted to create a one-stop shop for the young entrepreneurs to come and get all the support, learn about market research, develop their business plan, get legal and financial advice, register and grow their business.
Read more at: The Reporter