Angel Investors Missing Out on Ethiopia

Published on 15th April 2008

Angel investors (in the U.S.) are investment groups that take it upon themselves to find good investment ideas and opportunities, and fund those business ideas they believe would give a good return on their investments. In other words, they find good brains that lack the dough, and fund their ideas. It is a win-win situation for both. The smart guy comes up with a bright idea, and the angel investor funds the idea.

People from all walks of life have dreams, ideas and plans. Ethiopia is a country where you can find the big dreams, ideas and plans in abundance. Usually, businesses are started locally. If they become successful, they expand regionally, nationally and finally, internationally. So, why are so many angel investors in the U.S. hesitant to broaden their reach internationally, just like a successful business in need of growth would?

Very simple - uncertainty. Business appeal is not the first thing that comes to one’s mind when you’re thinking about investing in a Third World Country like Ethiopia. But if you are an angel investor worth your salt, you know better. The big reward can only be found in a place like Ethiopia (Africa) where no one dares to go. Sure, you can blame it on war and use it as an old and tired excuse, but China seems to be doing just fine.

When the economy in the U.S. is not as ideal - as seems to be the case now - it is not only a good idea to have Ethiopia as a second investment wheel to keep rolling, but also the return on your investment is considerably dramatic.

It is about time angel investors seriously explored the investment opportunities Ethiopia and Africa offer. Big corporations and governments (like China) have already said, “I am in!” Just like in India, Ethiopia has bright minds to provide to interested angel investors. China, for example, is getting its fair share of revenue from Ethiopia, although it is mainly working with big government contracts that will make it worth their time and the risk.

There is a piece of bread for everyone. Small investments might be a child’s play for a corporation or a government like China, but for the angel investor and his Ethiopian partner, that is their piece of bread.

I blame Ethiopians in diaspora for the lack of communication with the Western world in showcasing the various types of investment opportunities Ethiopia has to provide to outside investors.

We don’t hesitate in broadcasting our dirty laundry to the outside world. We march in a heart beat to protest any type of mistreatment by the government against its people. I am all with that and I support it whole-heartedly. But I do want to ask my fellow countrymen: “Where is the equal passion that needs showing when it comes to bringing-about positive change in Ethiopia?”

Ethiopia’s economic future is not in the hands of any given government or selected few rich Ethiopians; it is rather in every Ethiopians’ hands.

Angel investors need to be sold to the business opportunities Ethiopia has to provide, and that responsibility of selling falls on the shoulders of most Ethiopians in diaspora.

So what is it, are we going to meet half way? For our part, let’s start showcasing our ability and capability to the outside investor community. And for the angel investor, it is about time that you take a calculated risk in a country like Ethiopia and its many bright people that are equally talented in their country as the very people you deal with in the U.S.

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