A pioneer hotelier
When Tsegaye Tesfaye was looking at starting a hotel in Adama, Oromia Regional State, in 1991, there was hardly any hotel to emulate, with the exception of a few.
He was one of the earliest Diasporas if not the first who had come back to replicate useful and practical experiences gained from abroad. He wanted to help change the narrative of home that was no longer bound only by the mercy of aid organizations that has been its fixture for eon. He had left Ethiopia, via Saudi Arabia and Rome to Canada in the midst of 1980s when the political and the economic situation was unbearable to live in.
By the time he had returned in 1991, at the beginning of the new regime, Ethiopia was still a nation facing a slew of challenges, with few modern amenities and few tourists and many aid workers roaming the nation.
It would be few a years until Ethiopia would transition into a modern society welcoming the world to its shore, as tourists and foreign investors that would forever change its narrative and own the distinction of having the mantle of the fastest growing economy in the region. Even in the midst of difficulties and endless bureaucratic mess that he was forced to experience, he knew Ethiopia would change. That it would embrace its modernity and become the tourist attraction that he saw in his adopted city of Vancouver.
Tsegaye had worked as a taxi driver in there, which had given him a front window of hospitality after moving to Canada, something he knew was useful for Ethiopia.
“I left Ethiopia a long time ago, but Ethiopia remained in my heart. I wanted to be useful in its transformation and Adama was a fast changing place with many coming for a visit and I thought I would build a world class hotel to accommodate the flow of traffic,” he told The Reporter overlooking a green garden of the hotel that hosts a slew of events on a regular basis. “I wanted CanEth (used to be called Rift Valley) to be my legacy to a society that has nurtured and given me much. In 1983, I knew I was building the hotel for the future.”
“And the future is now,” he added.
CanEth Hotel, built on a 10,000sqm plot of land is located within the heart of Adama and has almost all the facilities of a modern four-star hotel, with well trained 178 employees and 108 elegantly furnished rooms and restaurants that accommodate local and international cuisines and restaurant with a capacity of 300 persons.
“I renamed the hotel, in reflection of my Ethiopian and Canadian roots,” he said. “The hotel has grown and we have built our own made-in-Ethiopia brand, including having rooms that accommodates all kinds of standard, from the executive suites to the standard and halls that can hold conferences and banquets with latest technological facilities for our guests.”
Tesgaye is aware that Adama is no longer the city of 1991 It has changed. It is more crowded now and more hotels, even those with international brand-names are coming to his shore, looking to share some of his business. To welcome the competition, he has built a second hub at the back of the original hotel, expanded his menu and constructed more green spacious space and plans to build a swimming pool and other entertainment features.
In addition to his contribution through his business activities, he has been an active business leader, involved in the voluntary and humanitarian sector. To mention a few, he has been an active Rotarian, serving as president for four years and participated in various social groups.
He has also been a strong advocate and active participant in various reforestation projects. He has personally financed spring camping projects in Gurage zone. He has also contributed to several government development projects and contributed in school building projects.
Above all else, he told The Reporter, his hotel has a unique style that is not flash y or pretentious but a feeling of home with all the amenities of an international standard.
“That is what sustained us during difficult times,” he shrugged.