Precise at 10

Looking Back at a Decade of Service

This month, Precise Consult celebrates its 10th year anniversary.  After hundreds successfully delivered engagements, we felt that it is a good time to pause and take stock of the road we have traveled.  From start, there was no question that this organization would be mission driven.  It would be a private sector firm

with the aim to support the transformation of the Ethiopian economy.  You see, we fully agree with the management philosophy promoted by the late Peter Drucker.  We believe that a business enterprise is an organ of society. Its purpose and existence must therefore be to contribute to its betterment.

Ethiopia has seen quite a few revolutions over the past century.  Most of these are the social and political type. However, there is one revolution without which Ethiopia’s recent progress can never be sustained.  That is a revolution in business. At Precise,we have endeavored help bring about a revolution in the way business is done in Ethiopia.     Our job is to advise the change makers at the forefront of changing society for the better; businesses, government, and the international development agencies that support them. We accomplish our mission by helping our clients reach their full potential, achieve better performance and transform their organizations.

Let me share with you some of the achievements we are most proud of.

At the forefront of the effort to rebrand the image of Ethiopia into a location for investment

We have always believed in the tremendous opportunities Ethiopia offers to investors.  We have also always believed that without productive and value adding investment, Ethiopia could not offer its citizens a better life.  Therefore, we have always been at the forefront of promoting Ethiopia.  Developed more than 8 years ago, our EthiopiaInvestor newsletter has served more than 400 editions.  Each edition delivers timely information on the business and economy of the country to our 5000 subscribers in all the continents of the world.  We crafted three promotional videos showing the unique value of investing in Ethiopia.  In 2012, we published our seminal work that identified the concrete opportunities in the many emerging industries of Ethiopia.  For two years, we ran a highly popular weekly radio program providing much needed business and economy analysis.  We began Ethiopia’s first and only CEOs Forum, a platform to inform and connect business leaders who can significantly influence how the economy develops.

Precise also helped organize and manage many investment summits focusing on Ethiopia.  Our role in helping to start the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum, which has now been running for a decade is something we are proud of.  In the past 10 years, we have masterminded, organized, or moderated dozens of bilateral investment missions as diverse as Japan, Israel, India, Sweden, and others.  We have provided strategic advice to dozens of large foreign investors on their entry into Ethiopia.  We were also at the forefront of both educating and engaging the first wave of private equity players that came into Ethiopia.  10 years ago, Ethiopia received hardly any foreign investment.  Nowadays, it is one of Africa’s top performers.  We are proud to have contributed to this success in our own small way.

Helping to bring business and government closer together

Any beneficial business revolution in Ethiopia has to be a partnership between the Government and the private sector.   The creation of a world-class business ecosystem, growth of an entrepreneurial class that can represent the nation in global markets, and the revenue base for a sustainable economy needs such collaboration.  But in Ethiopia, a poorly organized private sector with inadequate corporate governance meant that the possibilities for representative dialog were slim at best. Over the past 9 years, working for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), we supported over 100 chambers, sector associations, youth and women entrepreneurship groups in all the regions of Ethiopia.  Our advisory and capacity building support brought international quality knowledge to the country but with very local delivery.  We provided all our trainings in Amharic, Oromiffa, and Tigrigna.

Partly through our efforts, the chamber system has come a long way.  Our work has contributed to the growth of the organized private sector in Ethiopia considerably.  Our work with CIPE was directly responsible for the commencement of public private dialog forums in many regions and cities of Ethiopia as well as at the national level. As a result of the dialog, many policy and administrative challenges to doing business across the nation have resolved.  On the other hand, new innovations championed by local groups have sprung up.  We supported the development of a micro insurance program by women entrepreneurs in SNNPR region.  Approaches to land re-regularization, developed by one supported group in Dire Dawa was so impressive it was shared with other cities during the Ethiopian Cities week held in Mekele a few years back.

Finally, with the financial and knowledge support of CIPE, we helped the Ethiopian Chamber to create a Chamber Academy.  This Academy is currently providing association governance and management training to all types of organizations in the country.  Our efforts are thus institutionalized, and going forward, the Ethiopian chamber system will be able to solve its own capacity building problems on its own. We are proud of these achievements.

Championing the cause of Entrepreneurship and job creation

We are a large nation of 100 million with 70% of our population below the age of 30.  28 million children are currently in schools, preparing to enter the competitive world economy.  While this fact is a major opportunity that lies in front of Ethiopia, it is also one of its main challenges moving forward. Ethiopia must create millions of jobs within industries it can hope to internationally compete. Most jobs in any economy are created by the private sector.  This makes entrepreneurship an acute necessity.

At Precise, we are proud to have been thought leaders in helping to create the conceptual frameworks and institutions dedicated to create a better environment for entrepreneurs.  In a country that has little experience with business incubators, we have managed to design two of them, and operated one.  Through these two incubators, millions of dollar’s worth of support has reached Ethiopia’s budding entrepreneurs.  We have provided advisory support to more than 200 enterprises.  We have introduced new financial instruments and concepts.  We have trained thousands of small businesses across the country.  Within the context of integrating value chains, we have also trained thousands of farmers.  In 2016, we became a certified training delivery partner for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Business Edge instrument, an excellent practical platform well suited to the needs of small enterprises in Ethiopia.

Pioneering innovations and new approaches to development

Ethiopia has set a national mission to achieve middle-income status by the year 2025.  40% of Ethiopia’s GDP comes from agriculture and the sector dominates exports.  Therefore, transforming the economy and increasing the earnings of the population cannot be done without transforming agriculture.  But more than 90% of agriculture in Ethiopia comes from small farmers who face a daunting list of challenges.  It is thus essential to help build Ethiopian product value chains from small farmers all the way to the competitive world of global supply chains.  In this, we believe in Ethiopia’s economic transformation agenda.  Moving large numbers of people from agriculture into the higher value-added sectors of manufacturing are essential.  And hence we have focused our work on helping to transform Ethiopia’s agriculture, and help to grow its nascent manufacturing sector in a way that drags its entire economy into global supply chains.

Precise, working in partnership with the Economic Transformations Group, a New York City based development advisory, pioneered a specialized agribusiness incubator. The purpose of the incubator was to help link Ethiopia’s smallholder farmers to global supply chains by helping to build out entrepreneurs within entire value chains.  The $2.5 million-dollar project was undertaken in cooperation with USAID Ethiopia and the support of IrishAid.  We are grateful for our partners to allow us to contribute to society. Through the incubator, we supported more than 50 start-up and pioneering entrepreneurs in three value chains, raised more than $10 million in social impact investment, created hundreds of jobs, and linked close to 9,000 small farmers to supply chains.  But most importantly, we are proud of the fact that development partners and the Government of Ethiopia recognized our unique and successful approach.  This year, the Government, building on our approach has launched the Ethiopia Agribusiness Acceleration Platform.  It is our hope that this initiative will help bring transformation and prosperity to the millions of Ethiopian farmers.

Hoping to repeat our success in agriculture also in manufacturing, we have embarked on another innovation project supporting the efforts of the Ethiopian Industrial Parks Development Corporation and the World Bank.  We have already started to link a slew of Ethiopian firms to supply the dynamic FDI investors currently working in Ethiopia’s fast emerging industrial parks.

Helping to mold young professionals

From the early days, we have taken pride in molding and preparing young Ethiopians into the professional working environment. Today, our alumni could be found working for leading multinational corporations, large local business enterprises, and international development agencies.  We even have some who crossed over into the public sector and now work for the Government of Ethiopia. At Precise, we believe that building a nation and molding the professional capacity of its young professionals go together.

Indeed, a revolution in doing business is required if Ethiopians are to be guaranteed the quality of life we all aspire to.  This month, as we celebrate our 10 years in the service of our clients, our country, and humanity, this is the mission to which we reconfirm our renewed commitment.  A business revolution for Ethiopia!  Because a better Ethiopia will contribute even more to the well being and prosperity of humanity.

On behalf of my partners, I would like to thank all our staff, present and past, for believing in our cause.  I would also like to thank our clients, partners, and affiliates, for giving us a chance to help change Ethiopia for the better, so that Ethiopians could be even better citizens of the world.

Henok Assefa

Managing Partner