President of Ethiopia's Unity College Named "Global Young Entrepreneur"

October 1, 2000

NEW YORK — Dr. Fisseha Eshetu, the President of Unity College and a member of the Ethiopian Baha'i community, received a "Global Young Entrepreneur" award at the 7th World Summit of Young Entrepreneurs, held at the World Trade Center from 28 August to 1 September 2000.

Dr. Eshetu was one of four young entrepreneurs recognized at the summit for the growth and creativity of their enterprises and the shared prosperity they have generated.

Unity College, officially inaugurated in March 1998, was the first private college to be accredited by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. In only two years, it grew to become the largest private college in Ethiopia and the second-largest institute of higher education in the country, after Addis Ababa University. It now has an enrollment of more than 8,000 and offers courses in accounting, business administration, marketing, personnel management, hotel management and hospitality, and language training in Amharic, English and Arabic.

"Ethiopia was a country where there was no hope for thousands of young people to pursue their education at the tertiary level," said Dr. Eshetu. "Unity College came into existence in response to this huge need for education. Our mission is training, research and community service."

The World Summit of Young Entrepreneurs was sponsored by the Institute for Leadership Development (ILD), a United Nations global partnership institute involving governments, multinational corporations, and United Nations agencies. It was co-sponsored by United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). More than 350 young entrepreneurs attended from 97 countries.

The Summit was held on the eve of the United Nations Millennium Summit as a complement to Secretary-General Kofi Annan's "global compact," ILD Executive Director Sujit Chowdhury said at a UN press briefing on August 29. One of the goals of the Summit was to offer the young entrepreneurs opportunities for access to venture capital, global markets, and international joint ventures, in the belief that developing the private sector is a key component for achieving social progress and equitable globalization.

Mr. Eshetu said the college is already self-sustaining and that he plans to upgrade it to a full-fledged university by 2004. He is committed to providing scholarships to 10,000 women from poor families, and already has partial commitments from donor organizations. In September 2000 the college launched a daily, non-political newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 that focuses on social development. About two months ago the college also launched an educational radio program that airs for 20 minutes six days a week.