Iceaddis : interview of the first innovation hub & coworking space in Ethiopia

Iceaddis is the first innovation hub & coworking space in Ethiopia established in May 2011. The coworking space recently moved to a new modern building in the heart of Addis Ababa.

Florian Manderscheid (Ice Addis)

Iceaddis is partly an open community workspace, part vector for investors and part pre-incubator for young energetic tech- entrepreneurs.

We asked Florian Manderscheid, the development manager, to tell us more about Iceaddis.

What is Ice Addis ?

Iceaddis is an innovation hub and coworking space. We support startups teams and host events for tech community and social focus.

What can you tell us about your story ? Your focus ?

Iceaddis was established as the first innovation hub in Ethiopia, it serves as a place to go for young creative professionals with a background of an growing economy and changing structures in the society. iceaddis is offering a place for exchange, work and the support for innovative project ideas, that are related to local demands and developments. Mainly young university graduates and startup founders are using the iceaddis facilities and connect to the developer and technology community.

Looking back on several startups that have came out of iceaddis and a community with around 5000 members, we have currently changed our organization in to a private company that enables us to reach out to even more young talented techies and entrepreneurs. We believe that iceaddis has become more attractive to collaborate with private sector and international institutions.


How would you describe the situation of coworking in Ethiopia  ? Where does the demand come from ? Is your community mainly made out of freelancers, startups, NGO’s ?

As coworking is now in the beginning in Ethiopia, we see a huge potential for more places, such as iceaddis. So far, there are very few other public coworking spaces and the concept of coworking is very new to most of the professionals and corporates. Most of our community members have a tech related background but also international freelancer are part of the mix.

Is this audience big enough, according to you, to make those spaces financially sustainable on the long run ?

That is something, we are eager to figure out within 2015, since we just started giving service.

What are the biggest challenges you have to face ?

Apart from the financial sector that makes it complicated for startup investment, it is the bureaucracy which makes it necessary, to have a business license for each activity that we want to perform i.e. consultancy, coworking, events, product development. But we are very optimistic that the government will change the regulations and include startup incubation in the business licensing.

According to you, offers coworking a solution to offer a better, more reliable, internet broadband connection for a bigger audience in Africa ? What about power outages ?

Internet is available for many people by service providers, such as internet cafés and hotels. But coworking offers a lot more than internet, which is the exchange amongst young entrepreneurs and techies – that enables them to focus on even more complex challenges.

What can you tell us about the ambitions of Ethiopia in terms of digital entrepreneurship friendliness ?

So far, we see a change in digital entrepreneurship and a growing number of startups involved in the sector. Currently the potential is limited due to an inefficient financial sector, but we are waiting for mobile payment systems to be launched by end of this year. On the other side Ethio Telecom has a lot of homework to improve the stability of internet connection.

Do you thinks coworking spaces community in Africa should/could collaborate more ? If yes, in which fields ?

Probably coworking spaces can be a link for peer learning and knowledge sharing.


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