My Name is Yohannes Fissehaye. Call me Johnny. I am 25 years old. After I completed my training with Alchemy World–the Bright Future course and the New Venture Creation in 2010, today I am running a small centre with computer service and photocopy located in the Mekele University main campus as well as a second business, a graphics and printing business, providing services for promotion.
–. I am self-employed and provide services for promotion. It is a good business and I am working here on a full time basis. I am also currently working on a joint venture with Peacock PLC, Binyam Woldegabriel, another Alchemy World student. We are in the process of shifting to newspaper publication, making a business journal where we print tender notices for the business community released by the government and other providers.
Printing and graphic design is a trend in Ethiopia and there is a lot of competition in that business. So to compete in the market we try to do it in a different way. To keep our place in the market we are keeping ourselves up to date; constantly browsing the Internet is one of the most important ways of generating new ideas and finding new things to do. We are searching our environment. Not every business project works, but we use trial and error and we follow our instinct.
There is a kind of conflict in my life at this time. The first business pays my expenses. The second one is more part of my profession. But my educational background is a BSc. in electrical engineering. And to follow that track I am currently establishing a general partnership, an electrical works business, with a business partner. This is more in line with my educational background. The original plan was to establish an engineering and technology center, but it shifted.
In the future I plan to merge all the three companies, all emerging businesses, based on the resources, we have and the market. Not many businesses are doing this today – in the future there may be. But we are trying to find a fit with the needs of the market and our capabilities, plans and goals.
The best thing I learned from Alchemy World is to approach the problems, the market and the environment in a scientific and systematic way. I already had the entrepreneurial mindset before meeting Alchemy World. But with this training I was challenged in the way I think, in how to develop a strategy. So my business partner and I went through a transformation from amateur to professionals. We learned to challenge ourselves. We would be asked about our market strategy, about our promotion strategy, about our business idea and how to differentiate.
I was inspired to participate in the Bright Futures business idea competition; I didn’t win but it was inspiring to participate. And during the training we were guided by our teacher. He was always very motivated and always asked, what are you doing? Our teacher also served as a mentor for us. He was visionary and able to create excellent youngsters, excellent entrepreneurs; someone you can discuss your ideas and strategies with, someone who can criticize you but who always gives you something to work with.
If I shall sum up the most important things that I bring with me from my training with Alchemy World, they would be
- A scientific approach to our ideas,
- A critical analytical approach
- A better understanding of my own skills and resources, and the resources of my network, of my surroundings.
The last thing I want to say is follow-up: Lots of international programs come to Ethiopia. The really good thing about Alchemy World is the consistency. And the focus on continuity and follow up should be strengthened.
It is not the size of the dogs that matters; it is the fight between the dogs. And the beauty of Alchemy World is not its size; it is on what it does. It is touching many youngsters. In my surroundings Alchemy World has influenced as many as 30 young people.
The teaching programme helps not only us but also the people of the next generation. And it should be even more strong and consistent. With Alchemy World there is no hidden agenda; the program is very good and the motives very genuine.
About Alchemy World
Alchemy World was founded by Carlo Tortora-Brayda di Belvedere, born of Italian and Ethiopian parentage. The organization works with young people to help alleviate their poverty by equipping them with the skills and entrepreneurial initiatives to get the jobs that do exist and to start their own businesses. Ethiopia does not have a developed culture of successful small businesses with the potential for growth, so participants are helped to identify new initiatives and to build their own confidence in their ability to succeed through customer focus, quality and innovation. Alchemy World also provides incubation support for new businesses to help the young entrepreneurs create a reliable income for themselves and their families and to create employment and income for others.
Get more information on their website.
As reported to Joakim Larsen, who since several years works as a mentor for Alchemy World in Ethiopia.
Please read more stories from Ethiopia on Joakim’s blog.