Kenya and Ethiopia outsourcing associations join up for business collaborations

9 avril 2024
ITC News

Some of the best business deals are those made at small gatherings of like-minded entrepreneurs. That’s how a group of eight Ethiopian companies felt about their mission to Kenya that culminated in the signing of an agreement between their outsourcing associations. 

A man and woman in business attire hold signed agreements, standing between Ethiopian and Kenyan flags.
November 2023, Nairobi, Kenya. MoU Signing ceremony between the President of the Ethiopia Outsourcing Association, Wondossen Zwede and the President of the BPO Association of Kenya, Roselyn Maundu.

‘In order to change Africa and become a future business destination we have to collaborate, and the MOU means we are doing that,’ said Baheru Zeyenu Seid, CEO of AFRICOM Technologies in Ethiopia, one of the companies selected for the mission.

‘We are now working closely together on different tenders,’ Baheru added.

Started by five young graduates in 2004, AFRICOM Technologies is a leading Ethiopian IT solution and service providing company, providing data analysis, software development, social media content management, e-commerce and HR outsourcing.  

The model set by the memorandum of understanding between Kenya and Ethiopia is now expanding to include outsourcing associations in 10 African countries. This will allow companies to expand by reaching different potential partners and accessing funding opportunities such as impact funding, or even developing joint market promotion activities. 

‘We are working to develop Africa as a business process outsourcing destination,’ Baheru said. ‘Inter-regional collaboration will bring in more business. For example, if Kenya and Ethiopia collaborate, they may attract important impact outsourcing from large international firms, which will in turn build up our capacity and boost young African talent.’ 

AFRICOM Technologies was one of the companies to transform the Kenya visit into a direct business opportunity, when a Kenyan company linked AFRICOM to a US company participating in a tender for a capital market solution in Ethiopia. ‘This is the kind of big impact these missions can have,’ Baheru said.

Also on the mission was Robel Mesfin, CEO of Ablaze Labs, a business process outsourcing (BPO), technology and engineering company co-founded in Addis Ababa by a group of entrepreneurs. Mesfin believes that by using resources effectively, companies like his can make an impact in building up the African economy. 

‘The visit provided us with a unique experience, one where we could exchange knowledge and experience, get a feel for the business environment in Kenya, and discuss business opportunities with companies in our same industry. This rarely happens,’ enthused Mesfin.

The International Trade Centre’s NTF V Ethiopia Tech project supported the 27 November to 1 December 2023 visit in order to give Ethiopian companies a door into the business landscape in Kenya and establish valuable connections with potential clients and partners.

NTF V Ethiopia Tech’s primary goal is to boost the export revenues of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the IT and tech sector by improving their competitiveness in the global market.

Dawit Kebede Aberra, CEO of Afro-European Engineers, (AEE) a leading specialized structural engineering firm in Ethiopia working in residential, commercial, industrial and infrastructural development, is working with ITC on implementing an exporting marketing plan aimed at new potential markets including the Middle East, the United States and other African regions.

Founded in 2007 by Aberra and a Swiss partner, AEE to date has focussed mainly on the Ethiopian and Swiss markets. Aberra is often invited to talk to graduate students, explaining that is his way of sharing his knowledge with younger generations and changing the African business landscape.

‘I like the ITC model. They don’t just hand things to you: you have to participate in your own salvation,’ Dawit commented. 

ITC worked to tailor the mission to give AEE the opportunity to gain local market knowledge on who the key construction players are in Kenya, their service providers, their pricing structures and technologies. 

‘For me, business to business contact and business missions are more important than going to trade fairs,’ Aberra said of the mission. ‘Also, characterizing the market is important for us; it gave us some perspective as to where we fit into the regional competencies.’ 

Several meetings led to shared resources and new relationships.

‘We got to meet the largest players and bond with them. This is not something to be taken for granted,’ said Mesfin. ‘It’s important to connect with powerful CEOs and have partners in a country when you want to explore opportunities there.’ 

What impressed many on the B2B mission was how active the Kenyan government is in galvanizing and developing Kenya’s tech and outsourcing landscape. Microsoft and Google both have offices in Nairobi.

‘We got to see how Kenyan BPOs operate and how they get their business, and learned that Kenya’s tech and outsourcing landscape has a lot of government support. Looking at their plans for the future showed us the power that outsourcing can have and that inspired me personally,’ Mesfin said.

Ethiopian businesses have long called for more deregulation and for the private sector to have a larger voice when it comes to the design of business policies by the Addis government. 


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 drive the internationalization of tech start-ups and export of IT&BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries. 

Group of African business leaders pose for photo in front of large artwork
November 2023, Nairobi, Kenya. The first collaboration discussion between the Ethiopian Outsourcing Association and BPO Association of Kenya.
Photo by ITC