We believe that exceptional ideas and exceptional founders should be matched with exceptional support.  We try our best to discover amazing, out-of-the-box, disruptive, highly innovative, scalable, and potentially transformational ideas from youth interested in Ethiopian agribusiness.    Twice a year, we run a national competition and accept a small number of startups (5 to 10) into our on-site 4-month program based in Addis Ababa.  Our batches run February to May (Belg Batch) and August to November (Kiremt batch).

We require founder teams of 2 to 3 entrepreneurs because we believe that startups have a better chance of success with more than one founder.  We also think that it takes more than training and money to create a great company.  So, we take a holistic approach to the support we give to our startups.  Over four super-intense months in our on-site incubator program in Addis Abab, we do several things:

  • we provide our startup teams with a place to work alongside other talented and motivated entrepreneurs
  • we provide training on business skills (“hard” skills) and “soft” skills like leadership, emotional intelligence, ethics, teambuilding, among others
  • we coach our startups to get from an idea to a narrative to a value proposition to a feasibility study to a business model to an operational business plan to a branding and marketing strategy to investment needs and projections to pitch readiness
  • we support our startups as they register their companies, develop websites, build prototypes, recruit talent, and go through setup activities
  • we link our startups to top executives and heads of industry (the Lions)
  • we facilitate access to business support service providers, and
  • we match our startups founders to one-on-one mentoring with business professionals for 12 months.

In addition to the above, we invest seed funds into each startup we incubate.  So we only accept startups with ideas we believe have high potential and are investable and have a founder team that we consider to be emotionally intelligent, incredibly hungry for success, and humble enough to take advice and criticism. Most importantly, we look for founders who have the grit, determination, integrity, and passion to execute and to stay through the rocky road of entrepreneurship.  We believe that entrepreneurs are born, not made.  Our job is to provide the fertile ground where truly innovative, exceptional entrepreneurs can thrive and grow great companies.