Adama, Ethiopia 3rd Jan 2012
“Please welcome with a clap our special guest Lecturer, Miss Elena Gaffurini, from Italy” [yes, even if I leave in Ethiopia since 6 months, even if they invited me because of my work with AIESEC in Ethiopia, being a Guest Lecturer in the University I am someone because I come from Italy, the country of Entrepreneurs]. I graduated 2 months ago, I am working for a no-profit and for the University. I am not an entrepreneur. Not yet, Not formally, at least. What does that mean to be entrepreneur?
I challenge my plenary. 200 Ethiopian students, mostly from business faculty. They are part of the class following a specific course on entrepreneurship. They have already gone through how to create a business plan, how to target the market, how to transform an idea in an enterprise. Now they are eager to listen to successful stories from the world and from my experience.
What makes an entrepreneur successful?
On my way to Adama, traveling with a minibus. Around the road yellow fields, cows, donkeys, children running back from school carrying a small notebook in their hands. From mile to mile some small houses made of mad and dried theft. Welcome to the Ethiopian Countryside.
On My way to Adama I realized that I don’t really care about telling them successful stories of entrepreneurs from Italy or successful stories of business that I can download form Internet. For that, I can just give them the file with a list of interesting links.
What does Ethiopia need is to have Entrepreneur coming out of Ethiopian youth, developing business ideas for their country, for their society.
And to do it successfully there’s not really much I can teach them. There’s much more I can do inspiring them to take action, to actually do something about their dreams. To find out the reason why they want to do it. To present them the concept of capitalizing on other’s ideas to create strategic partnership to scale up their operations and their impact. To consider an enterprise as the most effective way to solve social problem. To consider AIESEC, the organization I work for, as a platform to support them in doing it and as the most accessible way to get an international mindset, develop leadership and managerial skills while they still are students and create their own network of organizations and youth.
I had 3 questions:
What is your biggest dream?
What is your society calling you for?
What do you want do to about it?
I asked them to divide in groups, draw a presentation of their business idea addressing a social need, proposing their target of costumers, identifying their value proposition and their revenue stream.
And then I ask them to stand up to share it to the others.
Business on the edge of Social Impact
It came out that the main part of their ideas where strictly linked with the Social Development Project AIESEC is developing in Addis with the youth already involved. It came up that I am not in this country because of money, that I am actually not getting any money to do what I do. It came up that yes, we can choose if to make something good, or if to make money. And we can also choose both. What matters the most is that we, as youth, as future leaders, as potential entrepreneur, we do what we do because we have a dream and a vision about it.