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3 Ground-Breaking Startups in Ethiopia

startups in africa ethiopia
Photo by NESA by Makers on Unsplash

ENZI Footwear

Those of you now familiar with our ‘Startups in Africa’ profiles may be perplexed by the inclusion of a fashion brand – we do tend to gravitate towards tech startups and much younger startups. However, ENZI is a ground-breaking company many African entrepreneurs can learn from. The company is an excellent example of how to have more than a high-quality product by having impeccable, consistent branding and marketing.

ENZI demands the attention of anyone who wants to start a global business in Africa.

The company was founded in 2011 by Jawad Braye and Azariah Mengistu in Addis Ababa. The co-founders are childhood friends who separated when Jawad went to study in London and Azariah in the United States. They started working on the vision for ENZI when Azariah moved to London from the US to join Jawad.

Driven by their experiences studying abroad, the idea was to start a brand which proudly represented Africans and challenged the negative perceptions of Africa. The availability of high-quality leather and craftsmanship in Ethiopia inspired them to realise their vision as ENZI Footwear, a premium footwear brand that seeks to challenge global perceptions of Africa through design, artisanal production and a transparent process that exceed international fair-trade standards.

It only takes a few minutes navigating ENZI’s website to see how the company has successfully complemented their quality product with quality branding. All their shoes are made in-house in Addis Ababa by artisan crafts men and women using traditional methods. Apart from the online shop, ENZI Footwear is stocked in shops in the UK, United States and even Hong Kong.

The company’s commitment to sustainability is embedded in their vision which goes on to say, “…. through developing and nearly owning the whole value-chain we seek to create a successful global brand without compromising our standards or convictions”. The value of having a well thought out brand mission and executing it compulsively cannot be overstated as evidenced by ENZI Footwear’s emergence as Africa’s first true premium global footwear brand.


Gebeya is an Amharic word meaning marketplace and as you would expect, a lot of companies incorporate the word in their names. Prominent startups like Car Gebeya and GebeyaNet Technologies come to mind, however, this piece is about the EdTech /IT service marketplace startup known simply as Gebeya or Gebeya Inc.

Targeting the untapped tech potential of Africa, Gebeya is on a mission to make Africa the biggest IT outsourcing Hub in the world by combining a practical training model to prepare the next generation of talented African Software Developers for continental and global job opportunities as well as entrepreneurship to support a growing African tech startups ecosystem. Africa is going through a digital transformation and logically there is an increased need for tech savvy talent going forward. Gebeya is the marketplace for such talent.

Gebeya was founded in July 2016 by Amadou Daffe and Hiruy Amanuel. The company implements a self-sustainable model that trains, hires and incubates.  Gebeya Training produces specialists in several tech industries i.e. AI, AgriTech, Blockchain, FinTech, Internet of Things, Media Production, Telecom, and Gaming. The company provides specialized, industry-specific software engineering, design and digital training; investing in Africa’s tech potential and providing employment opportunities.

Gebeya Marketplace is the platform through which businesses can hire talent for their specific needs.  Through ‘G-Talent’, companies can hire software developers for the short term or long term. ‘G-Subscription’ allows for access to talent at affordable rates for a set of hours/month. ‘G-Made’ allows for the hire of a Gebeya core team of engineers at a fixed price to deliver a final product. And, finally, ‘G-Box’ allows companies to order pre-written code specific to their needs.

It is such an innovative model and a win-win which has been embraced as far as the UK, with Gebeya launching there in November 2018. Earlier in 2018, Gebeya acquired Coders4Africa, a full-service software and consulting company. Gebeya’s last funding round, was a Series A round announced on October 30, 2017, raising an undisclosed amount. The startup had previously raised $1million dollars in a Seed Round announced on April 17, 2016.

GEBEYANET Technologies

GebeyaNet is a fresh produce e-commerce platform integrated with logistics and mobile payments, linking fresh vegetable farmers to market. The company was founded in June 2017 by Christian Tesfaye and Robel Benyam. Via a mobile and web platform, GebeyaNet’s mission is to integrate agricultural product electronic exchange and logistic coordination. The startup has an ambitious vision to become the leading global technology enabled virtual marketplace for agricultural products.

GebeyaNet’s platform works by connecting small-holder to commercial vegetable farmers with buyers like hotels, wholesalers and retailers. The platform facilitates the transactions via different services including mobile banking which is prevalent in Ethiopia. GebeyaNet goes further by providing logistic solutions to get products delivered from the farmer to buyer by using registered truck drivers around the farmer. GebeyaNet subsequently manages to empower farmers and truck drivers whilst making it easy for buyers to acquire fresh produce.

GebeyaNet has since opened its first franchise store in Jemo and hopes to open more stores. The startup’s model should enable to a continue to grow.




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