Photo Journey: Ethiopia Then & Now. A Tribute to a Cooking Pot
By Laura Davis | Tue Mar 08 2022
I remember moving to Ethiopia. It was the end of February 2012 and my second time to set foot in the country, a beautiful and complex nation of more than 80 ethnicities, the birthplace and home to (in my opinion) the best coffee in the world and the only country on the continent of Africa that has never been colonized, yielding a pride and strength one cannot ignore.
I was supposed to arrive, find a place to live and put together a plan for a week-long trip for some of our earliest investors, all in the span of less than a week. We now call those trips “Econ-Tourism Trips”, a phrase coined by one of our earliest members, Dr. Andrew Umhau, who also happened to be on that first trip with four other investors. I have very little recollection of how I pulled this first trip off, other than the day they were scheduled to come to my new apartment for dinner. I spent a good part of the day as we drove from one business appointment to the next, scanning the side of the road as we drove, trying to find a cooking pot to buy so that I would be able to cook the dinner. We had spaghetti that night, and I think it turned out ok, but thankfully my dinner menus have gotten more complex for our investors as the years have gone by.
Today, no one, not even my housekeeper, sees much value in that beat-up old pot, but I’ll likely keep it forever because it represents so much to me about myself, the world, RENEW and Ethiopia, then and now. A lot has changed, and over the next year, we plan to shed light on and celebrate some of these changes.
But first, I am grateful that what we believed 10 years ago is still very true today. The following key factors still motivate the RENEW team today and I believe will for the next decade, plus:
That Africa’s future lies in its private sector and that many of the problems that aid and charity are trying to fix will be significantly reduced once the private sector is thriving.
That SMEs are the core of a healthy private sector - when SMEs are strong, an economy is strong. Globally, SMEs create more jobs and support other businesses better than any other business type.
That with good management and “smart” capital, SMEs can grow to become market leaders that attract capital, create jobs, and drive impact outcomes and economic growth.
That we are all responsible for gender equality, inclusiveness and climate action and African SMEs can play a key role.
There will be plenty of time over the next 12 months to compare the Ethiopian economy, then and now, to celebrate our development partnerships, portfolio and impact and to tell you of our lessons learned. But in the meantime, I thought I would leave you with some photos from the past 10 years.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.