Africa Tech Expo: a springboard to new opportunities
The major tech event in Ethiopia opened doors to customers and partnerships
A good tech event can open doors and create life-changing business relationships for a tech start-up. The trick is to be prepared, know how to pitch, how to price and then, of course, pay for the booth. For some smaller start-ups, that can be just out of reach.
The International Trade Centre’s NTF V Ethiopia Tech project is geared to providing select promising companies the assistance they need to attend these kinds of critical events, win new leads, attract partners and investors, and help their business scale for export.
Bereket Tadesse, CEO and founder of IT solutions company BEKI Square and #asbeza, an online grocery delivery business based on web and mobile app platforms, said the recent Africa Tech Expo 2022 in Ethiopia he attended thanks to NTF V Tech opened the doors to new business relationships.
“Participating in these kinds of events is very important. It acts like a springboard to sell our brand and imprint our name and what we can do,” Tadesse said.
The Expo held in Addis Ababa from 7-9 September was designed to create opportunities to develop relationships with key decision makers in global tech. It showcased some of the latest disruptive technologies and innovators in Africa, and attracted an array of African entrepreneurs and global businesses.
“It was very encouraging for us. We found potential partners such as bank managers and payment solution investors,” Tadesse said. “We actually partnered with one payment solution company who was also there to exhibit. This will allow us to expand our business.”
“We are already working to configure their API with our applications and are about to test the payment gateway. With this partnership we can take on customers outside Ethiopia who want to buy groceries for their families in the country,” said Tadesse.
The Expo kicked off with the official launch of the NTF V programme in Ethiopia, and included panel discussions by business and thought leaders on start-up ecosystems, telecommunications and fintech.
Creating pan-African e-commerce
NTF V also sponsored five companies to have a booth at the event. Ahead of the expo, they received targeted business diagnostics as well as training on how to exhibit, pitch to investors, value products and services, and calculate pricing.
Trade Ethiopia, an online B2B marketplace connecting businesses, was one of those companies.
“That was really helpful, we were really prepared,” said Bernabas Kidane, CEO of Trade Ethiopia. “Our booth was one of the more active ones. We managed to partner with a company based in Dubai, as well as sign up new members and register a number of people interested in the training we provide.”
Kidane sees his future not only in the dynamic world of trading globally, but also within the African Continental Free Trade Area that encompasses large parts of the continent.
“I saw a gap. There was no cross-border e-commerce platform connecting African countries to each other, so we created it. Now we are scaling up. We have established a new brand name in Dubai, Africa Trade Gate,” said Kidane. He has also partnered with the African Business Magazine, focused on connecting Africa to the Middle East market.
The Africa Tech Expo granted Kidane the kind of business exposure that can lead to success, and he advised other start-ups to focus on how to take advantage of such opportunities.
“First, they should start with a problem, measure the intensity of the problem, then know how to solve it, how to fill that gap. Then, they really need to join an organization like ITC which has a lot of online free trainings on business, so they can learn from there. Then attend events,” Kidane said.
About the project
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and to drive the internationalization of tech start-ups and export of IT&BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.