British Council

'If we could encourage other social enterprises in our country it could create a big impact, and doing it together is much more powerful than doing it alone.' - Bruktawit Tigabu, a primary school teacher and creator of Whiz Kids Workshop

Life cycle





European Union


To enable vulnerable populations in Ethiopia to access social protection, health, education and jobs, thereby supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.


Ethiopia has realistic aspirations to become a middle-income country by 2025, resulting in a huge demand for learning opportunities and job creation. The social enterprise sector is vibrant, with young leadership and women playing a more prominent role. However, there was little support for the sector both institutionally and financially. We leveraged this opportunity to apply our capacity building expertise and good local relationships to empower the social enterprise sector at all levels in Ethiopia.


Our State of Social Enterprise Ethiopia Survey was the first research project of its kind to highlight the support Ethiopia required. We were forced to adapt our approach to data collection when a State of Emergency was declared in October 2016. The survey formed the basis of policy dialogues convening Ministries, civil society and investors. At early policy summits we shared learnings from our work in Ghana on how its government is supporting social enterprise. We also organised UK study visits, leadership training and bootcamps to improve sector understanding - we learned this was crucial to generating demand in Ethiopia.


Following the success of the pilot we launched the Ethiopia Social Enterprise Programme (2018-21) and inspired other countries in the region, notably Sudan, to launch social enterprise programmes of their own. Social Enterprise Ethiopia (SEE) was created on the back of the pilot, as a national body representing the sector. 

The SEE has been instrumental in securing the Social Enterprise World Forum for Ethiopia in 2019, the first time this global event has been held in a developing country. The event raises the international profile of social enterprise in Ethiopia with over 1,200 sector leaders attending. 

Our impact at community level was strong, from supporting Social Enterprise Leadership Programme cascade training to 300 community leaders, to facilitating relationships between the Social Enterprise Academy and Ethiopian partners.

Mutual benefit

Our work in Sub-Saharan Africa is creating opportunities for young people to fulfil their potential and improve their employability and resilience. In this programme we used our global network to facilitate successful partnerships. These included social enterprises, institutions and networks in the UK and Ethiopia; such as the UK’s Social Enterprise Academy (SEA) with General Wingate College, or Bethnal Green Ventures' collaboration with Reach for Change. Further opportunities are being created for government-to-government interactions, by building trust and increasing influence through mutually beneficial international partnerships.