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The inquisitive director

The inquisitive director

Aida Ashenafi, film director, producer and editor, has been working in New York, United States, for six years, and moved to Ethiopia in 2000. She began her career at Jive Records in New York City. She later co-founded Sauce Entertainment, a New York-based production and post-production company. She has produced various TV commercials for companies such as Nike, Panasonic, Coca-Cola and Dark and lovely. She supervised music videos for R Kelly, Backstreet Boys, A Tribe called Quest and many more. Aida also produced various films like ‘’I Think I Do” and “Media Noche”. She was also the executive producer for “The Naked Man”, an Oscar Nominee script that was co-written by Academy Award winner Ethan Cohen. After returning to Ethiopia, she joined Cactus Marketing and Advertising Company as creative director and operations manager for three years. She then founded Mango Productions in 2003. Her documentary film ‘’Guzo’’ is another production that got critical acclaim.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

Once my older brother had convinced me there is no such a thing as Santa Clause. On Christmas Day, when we woke up, each one of us had a bike next to our beds. I couldn’t believe it and that was one of the happiest days of my life.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

My first job was working for a director whose job was only shooting burger. There was also a food stylist. Since I never knew there was such a job, I was thinking this is not what they taught us in film school.

What is your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

When I was working at Jive Records, I was in to hip hop and there was a band called A Tribe called Quest. The lead singer’s name is Q-Tip and I loved him. When he walked by my cubicle, I said ‘What’s up Q!’ and he said ‘Eh, it’s Tip’.

The greatest challenge of your life

I recently lost a very close friend. It is the first time I lost somebody very close to me.

What/who is your inspiration?

The sea - being in it, near it, hearing it, the smell and the sound touches all my senses.

Your favorite restaurant.

Nobu.

Your favorite book

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Your favorite film.

I can’t pick one but, films that blew my mind, when I first saw them, are Miller’s Crossing, A Clockwork Orange and Goodfellas.

Your favorite website.

I am not really into websites, except for the shopping ones.

Describe yourself using only one word.

Inquisitive!

          The passionate entrepreneur

 

Bethlehem Tilahun

Bethlehem Tilahun is a businesswoman, founder and executive director of soleRebels - Footwear Company. She recently launched a second company, The Republic of Leather, focusing on custom-designed sustainable luxury leather goods. The eco-friendly soleRebels, which is inspired by barabasso, a traditional recycled tire sole shoe crafted in Ethiopia, has flourished with distribution to over thirty countries worldwide. She has received many local and international honors including being chosen by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. In 2012 she was included in Forbes 'Africa’s Most Successful Women' and profiled as a "Woman to Watch." And was chosen as one of Arise Magazine's "100 Dynamic Women who are shaping modern Africa’’. In 2014 she was named as one of CNN's "12 Female Entrepreneurs Who Changed the Way We Do Business."

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

Growing up in my neighborhood, there wasn’t much TV. Therefore, my friends and I had to create games, which I still remember.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

I don’t think I have one.

What is your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

I was receiving an award at Hilton Addis. Being a soleRebels person, I always wore flat shoes and I was learning how to walk on high hills. When I was about to walk on the stage one of my shoes fell off.

The greatest challenge of your life.

 People are being very innovative. As a businessperson, when I see people doing better job than me I always try to come up with other new ideas. That is a good challenge.                                                                                                           

 What/who is your inspiration?

 Every morning while going to my office, when I see the amount of people going to work I get inspired.

 Your favorite restaurant.

 Aba Guben.

 Your favorite book

 What the Dog Saw, David and Goliath and The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell

 Your favorite film.

  Lucy.

 Your favorite website.

  solerebles.com.

  Describe yourself using only one word.

  Passionate!

The pioneer designer

 

Ejigayehu-Hailegiorgis

Ejigayehu Hailegiorgis is a fashion designer and founder of Ejig Tibeb and the current CEO of Ethiopian Fashion Designers Association (EFDA). She is one of the pioneer Ethiopian female designers who has been in the business for many years, paving the way for young designers. As one of the founders of the EFDA, she is working to create a world class network representing professional interest of Ethiopian fashion designers community. She also aims to create a meaningful interface between design professionals, people as users, the industry, educational institutions and policymakers. Her effort is extended to support and promote upcoming designers and eventually for Ethiopian fashion designers to compete at the international fashion market.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

I enjoyed all childhood games except hide and seek. Above all I remember when my parents bought me new clothes and shoes. I was so eager to wear new clothes and shoes that I used to hang them in front of my bed until dawn.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

I had my first job at a very young age because school was closed due to the revolution. I had to fake my age on a certificate to get the job.

What is your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

During the revolution, I was arrested and was taken to a police station. A police officer was eating a biscuit that I like and was drinking coke. When I stared at him he asked me if I wanted some. I didn’t realize that he was mocking me so I took the biscuit and coke.

The greatest challenge of your life.

My husband was arrested for eight years and I raised three of my children all alone besides taking care of him.

What/who is your inspiration?

Everything I see.

Your favorite restaurant.

I usually cook at home but I like Yohannis Kitfo.

Your favorite book.

The biography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Your favorite film.

The Lion King.

Your favorite website.

Pinterest and other fashion websites.

Describe yourself using only one word

A human being!

The optimist CEO

 

Eleni-Gebre-Madhin

Eleni Gabre-Madhin (PhD) is an economist and a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX). She was the main driving force behind the development of ECX – mainly in highlighting that ECX allows farmers and traders to link to the global economy, boosting Ethiopian agriculture forward to a whole new level. She has a PhD in Applied Economics from Stanford University, a master's degree from Michigan State University and bachelor's in economics from Cornell University. She has many years of experience working on agricultural markets – particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa – and has held senior positions at the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington DC), and the United Nations (Geneva). In 2013, she launched eleni LLC, a company intended to build and invest in commodity exchanges in markets in the developing world, including Africa. She is also listed by The Africa Report in their ‘50 Women Shaping Africa’.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

My happiest childhood memory is going to the beach in Mombasa, Kenya, and spending entire days swimming in the ocean, then in the pool, then back to the ocean, then back to the pool.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

My first job was in the US. It was cleaning in a cheap fast food restaurant. I remember being so shocked when a low-income single mother brought all of her children to spend her welfare check on the first day of each month on eating out at this restaurant, which made me realize what poverty looks like in America.

What was your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

I have had so many awkward moments; it is hard to remember just one.

The greatest challenge of your life.

Making the decision to move back to Ethiopia from the US in 2004, when it was not as fashionable as it is now.

What/who is your inspiration?

The word of God, from reading the Bible.

Your favorite restaurant.

I have a favorite in every city, from Addis Ababa it is Gusto Ristorante.

Your favorite book.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Your favorite film.

When Harry Met Sally.

Your favorite website

Facebook

Describe yourself using only one word.

Optimist!

The brave sportswoman

 

Loza-Abera

Loza Abera is a football player (striker) for the Ethiopian national women team (Lucy) and Dedebit FC. She was the only female player in the town of Durame of the Southern Region State when she started playing football at the age of six. At an early age she took part in school teams and gained two years training in a youth project. Five years ago she was named best female player during the All Ethiopian Games held in Adama City in which she scored seven goals representing the Southern Regional State. In 2012, she started playing for Hawassa City FC and then joined Dedebit FC two years later. She is one of the top scorers in Ethiopian Premier League. She was also the top goal scorer in the U20 Women World Cup Qualifiers with six goals.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

I remember football matches that we had in our neighborhood. The winners got a trophy made of crown corks and it meant a lot at that time.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

During my first job at Hawassa City FC I was a bit confused during training times.

What was your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

I don’t remember the details but, once I gave a journalist an answer totally unrelated to the question he asked, because I was nervous.

The greatest challenge of your life.

I haven’t faced that big of a challenge so far.

What/who is your inspiration?

The thought of myself always doing better.

Your favorite restaurant.

 I don’t go much to restaurants but, I like Oslo Café.

Your favorite book.

The Bible.

Your favorite film.

Rebuni.

Your favorite website.

I don’t have one.

Describe yourself using only one word.

Brave!

The creative physician

 

Meheret-Mandefro

Dr. Mehret Mandefro is a primary care physician and a public health activist, who approaches raising awareness about issues and solutions in public health through research, teaching, non-profit leadership and filmmaking. She is the founder of TruthAID and works intertwining anthropological and medical research and the application of digital media to make research accessible to the public. She has worked on combatting gender-based violence, and on mental and psychological health systems. She has produced a film about HIV and women’s lives in the US and Ethiopia entitled ‘’All of Us’’.  She was one of 15 selected on White House Fellows program in the 2009-2010 program year. Her works had extended from the US and Ethiopia to worldwide.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

When we first went to the US, I remember swimming with my mother and father at a community swimming pool.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

I worked at a chemistry laboratory, and I fell asleep at my desk then my boss waked me up.

What was your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

It was in college, I haven’t locked the bathroom door and I was caught putting a tampon.

The greatest challenge of your life.

When I was a medical resident, I was taking care of HIV patients in South Bronx, poorest urban congressional district in America, and there was a lot of drugs, poverty, HIV like I have never seen, it was a tough period of my life.

What/who is your inspiration?

My mother.

Your favorite restaurant.

Piadina in New York.

Your favorite book.

I write What I Like by Steve Biko and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Your favorite film.

The Lives of Others.

Your favorite website.

TruthAID.org

Describe yourself using only one word.

Creative!

The versatile communicator

 

Selome-Tadesse

Selome Tadesse worked in many positions including being a spokeswoman for the Ethiopian government during Ethio-Eritrean War. She was the general manager of the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) for four years. After leaving ERTA she worked for the WHO, UNECA and the British Council. She is the founder and CEO of Emerge Consultancy and Training, which works on the area of leadership and communication trainings. She has been an activist on behalf of women, both in her consulting business and as a motivational speaker. She is also known for her notable work with regards to ‘’Yegna’’—an all-girl Ethiopian acting and singing group—aiming at empowering the young women of Ethiopia.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

My childhood was quite happy, except losing my father when I was 14. I played all kinds of children’s games too much; it took me a long time to grow. I also remember being naughty in class.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

This is not at my first job, but, when I was a diplomat in Washington DC, I had a title of press councilor. I was sitting in a huge office, trying to figure out what a press councilor does. I went to the ambassador and told him that the government made a mistake since I didn’t know what a press councilor does.

What is your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

I don’t have one.

The greatest challenge of your life.

Challenge changes in life’s different phases. But, trying to pretend is what I struggle with.

What/who is your inspiration?

Excellence.

Your favorite restaurant.

Le Grand Reve.

Your favorite book.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Your favorite film.

Tell Mind Loose.

Your favorite website

tadias.com

Describe yourself using only one word

Amazing!

The determined executive

 

Sophia-Bekele

Sophia Bekele is a business and corporate executive, an International entrepreneur, corporate governance and risk management specialist, international policy advisor on ICT, internet and development issues, a governance and ICT activist and philanthropist. She is the founder and CEO of DotConnectAfrica (DCA). She is known in the Global ICT and Internet Society for her efforts to bridge the global digital divide through technology transfer and education. She is also the Founder and CEO of CBS International, a California-based company that is in the business of strategic technology integration to emerging economies and also provides corporate governance and communication services to US-based clients.  Among other things she is the Chief Convener of the Internet Business Council for Africa (IBCA), an industry group that represents the African private sector in Global Internet Governance and ICT matters. She is also chairwoman of GEDA Investment Group.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

Playing picnic with my Sister under a big tree in the center of the French garden that surrounds the beautiful mansion, which is like the house we grew up in. We will spend the whole day there reading, talking about being girls, and dreaming about the future.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

When I referred to my boss as a Mr. and seeing his eyes pop out thinking where this one is coming from.  It is unheard of in US work environment.  I did it to impress him and that he never corrected me to say different.

What was your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

When I asked a lady I have just met who had a protruding stomach about her baby and when she looked past my eye and responded she is not pregnant.

The greatest challenge of your life.

Maintaining happiness amidst the chaotic life we live in, as I remain true and honest to my core values.

What/who is your inspiration?

Disrupting the status quo, people who are game changers, my opponents, and underdogs like David from The Bible.

Your favorite restaurant.

There are so many but if I have to pick one, LaMar, San Francisco.

Your favorite book.

Ayn Rand's The Fountain Head, The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris and Thrive by Arianna Huffington.

Your favorite film.

I won’t pass anything that has Jason Bourne, Statham, and Halle Berry.

Your favorite website.

Travel and leisure websites.

Describe yourself using only one word.

Enigma!

The altruistic Zemi

 

Zemi-Yenus

Zemi Yenus is the founder and managing director of the Joy Centre for Children with Autism and Related Developmental Disorders, Nia Foundation and Niana School of Beauty and Modeling. Before these, she worked in several places, including Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California, and established her own beauty salon in Los Angeles, after completing a course in Cosmetology. Besides her tireless movement to change the society’s awareness about autism, support autistic children’s families and helping with treatment of children with autism and other developmental disorders, she contributed a lot by trying to change the life of young girls on the street working as commercial sex workers.

Describe your happiest childhood memory.

I loved being sent as a messenger from my parents to our neighbors and I also remember playing in the rain. I was a care free child—shaving my head and painting on trousers.

Share an incident at your first job that you will never forget.

Being young I didn’t know when people tried to take advantage of me and there were different kinds of harassments.

What is your most awkward or embarrassing moment?

Once I was a host of an event in Los Angeles and unexpectedly I was asked what Ethiopians used to calculate before the invention of calculators. I literally went blank. I eventually answered but, it was embarrassing.

The greatest challenge of your life.

When my son was diagnosed with autism I didn’t know what to do. That was the darkest part of my life.

What/who is your inspiration?

Good deed, peace and love.

Your favorite restaurant.

Umma Hotel for Mediterranean food and Asham Resort.

Your favorite book.

The Bible, Quran and Kitáb-i-Aqdas

Your favorite film.

There are many. I can’t pick one.

Your favorite website.

Nia Foundation.

Describe yourself using only one word.

Zemi Yenus!