Ethiopian students start their own business

Neu-Ulm, 23.09.2016

International HNU project completed successfully

HNU launched an education project in Ethiopia in 2014 together with several companies and the Ethiopian Arba Minch University. More than 70 Master's degree students of electrical engineering have since been trained how to start up their own micro-companies through the Applied Entrepreneurship Education Programme (AEEP). One real highlight was a mobile solar car for location-independent power generation.

Business ideas can only work with electricity – but only 1% of Ethiopia's rural population have access to it. The AEEP of the HNU and the Arba Minch University tackle this issue. Ethiopian students develop and realise affordable business models based on small solar systems, while professors from both universities give the students the important managerial expertise, entrepreneurial methods and the skills that they need to realise their business ideas.

More than 70 students took part in the programme, which is tailored to the local economic conditions – and they impressed everyone with their innovative business models like the mobile solar car, which enables location-independent power generation and use. One participant succeeded in establishing a small manufacturing company with a solar-powered CNC machine, creating several jobs at the same time.

According to Professor Thomas Bayer, who has been head of the project for HNU since 2015, "The AEEP is a labour market-oriented programme, which gives students the opportunity to improve their own economic situation in Ethiopia through the creation of micro-industries and micro-enterprises. In combination with the programme content developed during the project, our Ethiopian partner university can make an important contribution to future economic development in the region."

To continue the project, there is a plan to build an Entrepreneurship Innovation Centre where programme participants can continue to evaluate business models and test their economic sustainability.

The AEEP is part of the DAAD support programme, 'Partnerships between higher education institutions and companies in Germany and developing countries'. It has been funded with €500,000 by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Thomas Bayer, thomas.bayer@hs-neu-ulm.de

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