Press release

ILO supported Business Development Service Providers Association established in Ethiopia

The association will provide its services to refugee and host community businesses and entrepreneurs in Ethiopia to improve their performance.

Press release | Addis Ababa | 12 October 2022
The launch of BDS in Addis Ababa ©ILO/Homa Ejeta
On October 10, 2022, Business Development Service Providers Association of Ethiopia (BDS) was established with the technical and financial support of International Labour Organization (ILO).

An official ceremony took place in Addis Ababa to establish the Association in the presence of Alexio Musindo, Country Director of ILO Country Office of Addis Ababa, Tine Staermose, ILO’s Special Advisor, Paula Schindler, Deputy Head of Mission at the Netherlands Embassy in Ethiopia and H.E. Nigussu Tilahun, State Minister, at the Ministry of Labour and Skills as well as other local, governmental, and civil society partners of the ILO.

BDS aims to improve the performance and resilience of the Ethiopian enterprises, entrepreneurs and cooperatives. It will provide training, technical and marketing assistance and information on improved production technologies to its beneficiaries. The Association is formed by 20 business development services trainers trained and certified by the ILO, since 2020, in support of the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to operationalize the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.

“The ILO will continue to support BDS till it holds ground in Ethiopia. We will engage BDSTs in training and mentoring ILO PROSPECTS programme beneficiaries – mainly the vulnerable host and refugee community members included in the value chain development and business plan competition activities,” said ILO Country Director for the Horn of Africa, Alexio Musindo speaking at the ceremony. “We are certain that the regional government, NGOs and even private sector will benefit from the services offered by BDS,” he added.

With the intention of developing a dedicated pool of BDSTs in Ethiopia, the Government of Netherlands supported ILO PROSPECTS programme conducted Training of Trainers (ToT) with 32 representatives of local, regional and federal level governments, civil service organization, and the private organizations engaged in business management, financial education and cooperative promotion. They were technically and financially supported to complete certifications of ILO’s tools - Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB), Cooperatives establishment (Start and Think Coop), Gender and Entrepreneurship Together (GET Ahead), and Financial Education.

In last two-years, the trainers rolled out business development trainings to 1,250 host and refugee community members in the Somali region and Addis Ababa. They continued to receive coaching and in-session technical support from ILO’s international, master and lead trainers in this process. Tamiru Demeke, President of the association, said “Now confident to lead the trainings on our own, we have formed this association. It will enable us to render our services effectively and sustainably to the host and refugee beneficiaries in a systematic and cost-effective manner. The Association aims to tackle poverty and unemployment problems and build capacities of entrepreneurs, especially youths and women”

Ms Paula Schindler, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said: “On this important occasion, I would like to compliment the effort of PROSPECT Partnership in building local capacities so that refugees, returnees and vulnerable host communities are able to create better prospect for themselves. I strongly believe that the Business Development Service Provider Association will play a crucial role in that!”.

The association is processing the registration as a professional association to advance the National Business Development Service Provision, a critical component of the Ethiopia’s Economic Reform Policy. Pleased with this critical development H.E. Ato Nigussu Tilahun, State Minister, Ministry of Labour Affairs and Skills said, “We, as a ministry are committed to solving bottlenecks through expanding the business development service provision at grassroots level along other national priorities”.

Following today’s establishment, the new Association will convene a general assembly to ratify the association bylaws, memorandum of understanding (MOU) and code of conduct. “The Association contributes to the realization of ILO’s decent work agenda and by providing quality and standardized business development services, we wish to empower the communities we work with,” said Tine Staermose, of the ILO.


The PROSPECTS Partnership is a multi-year programme, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, that brings together five agencies (ILO, World Bank, IFC, UNICEF, UNHCR) to devise collaborative and innovative approaches for inclusive job creation and education in contexts characterized by forced displacement. The programme encompasses three pillars, namely Education, Jobs, and Protection and operates in eight countries across East Africa, Horn of Africa and the Middle East employing an area-based approach, in which the partner agencies jointly focus their activities on selected regions in each country.

For Ethiopia, the partner agencies have selected Jigjiga refugee operation to focus their interventions. Under the partnership, the ILO, together with IFC and World Bank, lead interventions to improve livelihoods of host communities and refugees, including through value chain and enterprise development, access to finance and cooperative development and promotion.

For more information contact

Homa Ejeta, Senior Communications and Information Management Asst, ILO +251913015688

Jean-Yves Barba, Chief Technical Adviser, ILO