Ethiopian Innovators stay productive amid war time  


Early 2020 was a hopeful time for Ethiopia’s startups. Venture capitalists were increasingly eyeing Ethiopian startups,But now, as Ethiopia is deep in a bloody one-year civil war, shifting winds have brought a completely different scene in the Ethiopian public discourse and start-up ecosystem.

The tech community finds itself taking sides too in a war that has deeply polarized Ethiopians locally and abroad.

Solomon Kassa, a TV Personality, tech-consultant, and an important figure in Ethiopia’s innovation ecosystem, is one such player actively engaging campaigns revolving around the war.

Solomon, who recently founded 1888 EC, an innovative startup studio that aspires to create disruptive innovators and change-makers in Ethiopia, has been a prominent advocate of “Pro-Ethiopian voices” on social media where both conflicting parties try to control the narrative.

Another tech firm that is lending its hand to the cause during wartime is Chapa Financial Technologies, helping out in humanitarian causes. The fintech firm developed Eyezon,  a fundraising platform that allows Ethiopians worldwide to contribute to national causes.

In its first campaign to support conflict victims in Ethiopia, eyezon was able to raise 153 million birr ($3.1 million) since its launch a month ago.

Through a partnership with a local bank, which agreed to cover the whole cost of international money transfer, 100% of donations go to the causes that supporters choose to give.

Ethiopia’s first startup act that aims to provide customized support for startups and incentivize entrepreneurship is set to be passed into law after spending over a year in the making. And according to S an Addis Ababa-based digital media and research company, Ethiopian Fintech companies alone have raised more than $8.8 million in 2021 in the midst of the conflict.

Despite the uncertainties caused by the war and its massive hit on the economy, innovators remain cautiously optimistic that a post-war Ethiopia can still hold on to some of the gains that were made in the tech sector. Perhaps, their allegiance to the government or TPLF can be seen as a belief in what Ethiopia can be.