Strangers become partners

YEEP started with a meeting of of student and lecturers representing Hawassa University (HU) and Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) and representatives of the Business Machine. During this meeting, different possibilities for cooperation were discussed. The four day workshop, lead by Stephan Brun of The Business Machine, provided a platform to not only brainstorm and discuss ways of cooperating but also to get to know one another during joint meals, evening excursions and many tea and coffee break discussions. The result of these intensive four days was the decision to get both universities to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and, as a first concrete activity, to initiate a project we named YEEP which stands for “Young Entrepreneur Exchange Project”.


Do we all have the same idea?

The next important step was to ensure that, after days of discussion, we all thinking had the same thing in mind. This meant writing up an overall concept paper of the three phases of the project. A process that was initiated while waiting for our plane at the airport in Addis Abeba later followed by a detailed concept paper of phase one, written by the newly delegated project leader in Hawassa.


Igniting the fire in both organizations and beyond

The Swiss project members then needed to gain the full support of the management of the Business Division. One most important element of the project was bringing together Swiss and Ethiopian students for them to work on innovative business ideas. Therefore, we had to be able to offer an elective module for all BFH students which would run in the spring semester of 2014. The ‘go ahead’ on the side of the Business Division of the BFH came in October. 

At the same time, the Ethiopian partners had to spread the news of the project and obtain support within Hawassa University, the Business Incubator of the School of Informatics as well as beyond the university, for example from government institutions such as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Science and Technology Institue, the SNNPRS Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency, the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture Building and construction or ICE Addis (Innovation Collaboration and Entrepreneurship).


Spreading the word and getting ready

The Swiss student volunteers developed a project logo and promotional material to be used in Switzerland. This was followed by an intensive promotion campaign at all levels of the BFH, which finally lead to the YEEP pilot project in 2014.




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