On February 25 and 26, the CIPE Civic Engagement Hub in Ethiopia hosted its first pitch competition in Addis Ababa. The CIPE Civic Engagement Hub is an incubator and resource center for Ethiopian civil society organizations based in CIPE’s East Africa Regional Office in Ethiopia. The Civic Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition aims to provide seed-funding to recently established civil society organizations and social enterprises to help them sustainably grow and advocate for reform.
From 2009 to 2019 the space for civic participation in Ethiopia was extremely limited. A change to the law in 2019 has created new opportunities for civil society groups to get involved. However, after nearly ten years of restrictions many CSOs are needing to start from scratch – developing new organizations and best practices.
“It can be difficult for new Ethiopian CSOs, particularly those led by young people, to access funding and project opportunities,” said Hailemelekot Asfaw, Director of the East Africa Regional Office. “The pitch competition is a way to allow newer CSOs to develop and implement their own projects, while they simultaneously work with CIPE on sustainable models for growth, communications, and financing.”
During the competition, ten finalists presented their project ideas to a panel of judges representing the African Union Commission, the African Civic Leadership Program, and Social Enterprise Ethiopia. The winners of the pitch competition are as follows (alphabetical order):
- Amhara Women’s Federation (AWF): The Amhara Women’s Federation is the newly established, umbrella organization representing the Amhara Women’s Association, the Amhara Women Authors Association, the Amhara Womens’ Trade Association, and the Amhara Womens’ Disability Association. As a representative of all four organizations, AWF will advocate to close implementation gaps in a regional policy reform initiative focused on women’s economic empowerment.
- Center for Justice (CJ): A non-profit based in Adama, Center for Justice is dedicated to the advancement of rule of law, human rights & democratic governance in Ethiopia through a mix of advocacy, research, and practical programs with a focus on criminal justice reform. CJ will work to strengthen the organization’s financial sustainability while working to supporting criminal justice reform.
- Ethiopian Innovators Association (EIA): Founded to address barriers to inclusivity and growth in Ethiopia’s burgeoning start-up sector, the Ethiopian Innovators Association will focus on increasing access to innovation spaces and policy conversations for people with disabilities.
Winners will receive grants from CIPE up to $7,000. During the next 6 months, grantees will implement their projects with support from CIPE and the global network of CIPE experts.
In Ethiopia, CIPE works with private-sector organizations to promote market-based economic reform and participatory political dialogue on matters of economic policy. To date, CIPE has supported more than 100 private sector and civil society organizations across all of Ethiopia, from Addis Ababa and the highland states to emerging regions like Afar, Somali, Benishangul-Gumuz, and Gambela. A non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy, CIPE currently implements 130 programs in 50 countries around the world.