Strengthening Business-to-Business Linkages in Ethiopia: A Guidebook for Chambers and Other Business Membership Organizations

06.08.2021 | Guides & Tools

Executive Summary

The establishment of industrial parks near Ethiopian towns presents an untapped opportunity for local businesses and entrepreneurs to supply goods and services to international buyers. 

Ethiopian Chambers of Commerce and other business membership organizations (BMOs) can accelerate growth for their member companies and the local economy significantly by supporting local suppliers to increase their sales and strengthen their business-to-business (B2B) linkages with foreign direct investors in industrial parks. BMOs are best positioned to help expand and develop B2B linkages because they are the natural representatives and convenors of the business community. BMOs can support the development of B2B linkages by acting as a point of contact for foreign direct investors and local suppliers and by sharing information and facilitating relationships. 

This guidebook provides a three stage, thirteen-step practical process to guide BMOs through helping their members strengthen B2B linkages with foreign direct investors in industrial parks. It aims to give BMOs a toolkit for understanding the requirements of foreign direct investors (as buyers) and local sellers, building connections between each, and assessing progress. Each section provides an overview of best practices and common pitfalls for BMOs supporting the growth of B2B linkages as well as accompanying case studies. 

The guidebook is organized into four main sections: 

What Are B2B Linkages and Why Are They Important? – briefly introduces the concept and provides a three-stage, thirteen-step framework for how BMOs can help strengthen B2B linkages. 

Stage 1: Starting Out – covers the basics of getting started in developing business linkages, with a focus on individual relationship building and forming a strong understanding of what both buyers and local suppliers want. 

Stage 2: Supporting Suppliers – takes a closer look at fundamental activities BMOs can do to help suppliers make contact with foreign direct investors, understand their buying needs and requirements, and foster lasting relationships between buyers and suppliers. 

Stage 3: Follow-Up – looks to the future and emphasizes the importance of maintaining B2B relationships through consistent follow-up, monitoring and evaluation, and an examination of system-wide challenges in the current business environment that BMOs can address through support of policy advocacy and reform. 

The guidebook also includes several suggestions for further reading on business linkages and enterprise development as well as key resources for BMOs in Ethiopia, including:

  • Technical Assistance and Training For Ethiopian BMOs – For training on advocacy or organizational management, BMOs can reach out to CIPE via the CIPE Civic Engagement Hub, which provides regular, free training events.
  • Ethics 1st for Improving Supplier Integrity and Business Advantage: This online resource enables suppliers and local businesses to enhance their business management and compliance systems, enabling them to comply with globally recognized best practices and making them attractive and visible for foreign investment and international buyers. Through this platform, local businesses can access free compliance recourses, get listed for free, and get capacity building support from professionals in Ethiopia to improve their management systems.
  • How to Advocate Effectively– Advocacy efforts must adapt to the internal environment in a given country. This guidebook draws on successes from around the world to present a detailed guide on how to advocate effectively to help local organizations identify constraints to business and develop policy recommendations to improve the business climate.
  • The Virtual Business Association– An online tool for business membership associations and chambers of commerce that addresses best practices in organization governance, management, survey development, and advocacy.

An Amharic translation of this resource is forthcoming.