The 71-year old Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association elected its first female president. The election for two-year term board director seats was also chosen during the Association’s 14th annual general assembly held on October 24, 2018 at the Intercontinental Hotel. Attended by over one thousand members and their representatives, Mesenbet shenkute won 419 votes to replace former President Elias Geneti.
She won the presidency against Selahedin Kelifa, manager and shareholder of Kadisco Business Group and president of Ethiopian Freight Forwarders & Shipping Agents Association, who received 276 votes.
A 54-year-old business women, Mesenbet is the former president of Abay Bank. She is the head and founder of New Dimension Management Consultancy Plc, which was established three years ago, as well as a board member of the Ethiopian Space Science Society. She is also the spouse of renowned historian Bahru Zewde (Prof) who specialises in Ethiopian and Horn of Africa history.
Mesenbet, who holds a master’s degree in business administration, has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Association since 2015.
According to the regulations of the Association, or the City Chamber as it is fondly known, the president automatically assumes the position of vice president, which in this case was Abebaw Mekonnen, the 39-year-old owner of Abebaw Home & Office Furniture & Metal Works.
The City Chamber also elected nine board members, including Nesanet Lemessa, CEO of state-owned Ethiopian Insurance Corporation, and Kibret Abebe, owner of Tebita Ambulance.
The outgoing president Elias Geneti said there were three achievements he fondly looked back on during his time as president at the Association.
“We have built a positive image among members of the City Chamber, maintained the Addis Abeba Exhibition & Marketing Development Centre and secured land for the construction of our headquarters,” Elias said.
Elias’s successor, Mesenbet, said she would begin by reviving the existing strategy of the City Chamber to be in tune with the country’s economic and political reforms.
“We will build upon our strategic plan and prioritise evaluating tasks based on outcomes,” she said. “We will also try to create a conducive environment between the Association and the government, working toward access to finance and broadening the membership base,” she said.
This year’s election for the Association’s presidency marked a peaceful ending, according to one of the members, Tesfaye Negash.
During the Association’s ninth assembly in 2014, the election for the presidency ended with intervention from the Ministry of Trade and the Addis Abeba City Administration when the Trade & Industry Development Bureau formed a board of trustees to resolve the case.
The trustee board was formed following the order of the Federal High Court that annulled the general assembly and ordered a repeat of the assembly and the election. The High Court annulled the first assembly after stating that the City Chamber had unlawfully banned its member, United Insurance S.C.’s representative Zafu Eyesuswork, from attending the assembly and casting his vote.
The trustee board administered the City Chamber until the next general assembly was held, which concluded by re-electing Elias, the founder of Agro Prom International Plc – a company that imports agricultural products. He has been serving as the board chairperson of the Oromia Insurance Company since 2014.
Though Mesenbet becomes the first female president of the City Chamber, Mulu Solomon was the first female president to head the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association. Mulu has also served as a board member of the City Chamber.
Last year, the City Chamber secured land to construct a 22 storey headquarters in Megenagna, where they plan to establish their television and radio stations. The chamber also collected over eight million Birr from its members during the last fiscal year.
Established in 1947, the Association is a voluntary, non-governmental, business membership organisation with more than 16,000 members.
The Chamber established a policy research centre and its own training institute, which has been training professionals from the business community and state-owned enterprises for the past 40 years. It also operates the Addis Abeba Exhibition & Marketing Development Enterprise, outsourced by the Addis Abeba City Administration under a management contract.
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