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Being an entrepreneur in Ethiopia with Natnael Feyisa

Hi Natnael, Please tell us who you are and what you do?

I am a young entrepreneur who loves his country, enjoys solving problems, believes in hard work, passion, and consistency.

Starting from my first year in college I worked at Ernst & Young in business advisory from 2013 to 2015 and from 2015-2016 I worked for Fairfax technologies LLC (US) as a solution consultant on the SAP software.

But eventually, I left those giant companies to chase my own dreams.

I was always interested in starting my own business ever since I was 17 years old. My first business involved selling open source ERP software for small and medium-sized companies in Ethiopia.

Now, I’m currently, the co-founder and CEO at Alert Express Trading PLC a company that works on import and distribution for one of the world’s major cosmetics and cleaning brands called Parachute and Misslife. At the same time, I run another business called “La Maison Addis” who rent apartments and B&B’s using online accommodation platforms like booking.com and Airbnb.

What is the funniest or most interesting story that happened since you started your company?

The most interesting thing through my entrepreneurship journey is that I inspired a lot of people around me especially my friends and family members.

Natnael hosting students for the largest African running event held in Addis Abeba

I never expected I would be a reason for the changes that happened to their life and become an inspiration to follow their vision and work towards it; most of them are now running stable businesses and successful lives. I am blessed and grateful for that.

Being based in Ethiopia, how would you describe the business landscape there? What is going well, and what is not?

Somebody once said, ” If you want to be rich work in America, but if you want to be wealthy, go to Africa!” I don’t remember who said that but it is very true. Africa especially Ethiopia is a great place to build your legacy and contribute to the world.

It is also a great place for startups as well, we have a huge population (100+ million people) thus a very large market, the weather is perfect all year round, the people are very welcoming and open for new ideas, labor is cheap, electricity is the cheapest in the world, we have stable politics with a recent Nobel prize winner prime minster.

What does your team look like and how would you describe your company culture

My company always focuses on the best resources, knowledge, and skills to get the job done quicker and better.

As an import and distribution company, we mostly focus on sales targets and clearing stocks on time.  Efficient and effective solutions through collaboration and hard work are our philosophy and the way we run our day to day life.

A new shipment has arrived for Natnael’s trading company

My partners and employees are team players who believe in working together, but we don’t forget to have personal responsibilities and duties for each of us. 

Running multiple businesses from import/export to renting apartments on Airbnb, do you have any tips on how to best manage your time?

My life becomes so easy when I start to learn to focus on important things instead of the urgent ones. I start to understand that the flow of urgent issues is like a flood without limits which will consume your time and energy.

Because of the urgent matters, you think you are working but you don't get things done on time, and this will drag you back from your target, vision and life plans. Click To Tweet

So I start by focusing on important matters, learn to schedule and delegate my day to day activities in advance (appointments, meetings, friends family times, and personal time).

I just schedule everything using the Anydo and I use Slack to communicate with my team. This way, I learn to best manage my time, energy and have enough time to balance and run multiple businesses.

If a kid walked up to asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?

I don’t know, I may tell him that, treating everyone in a decent and kind manner whether it is a homeless or rich person will take him wherever he wants in his life.

Kindest thing someone has done to you?

I can’t forget this guy who randomly gave me 200 bucks by just reading my face when I had nothing in my pocket to go to my internship interview with Ernst & Young.

He knew me as I frequently passed by his restaurant walking to school.

Want to stay in touch with Natnael? Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and make sure to check La Maison Addis.

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