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Business

Tsegaye: 'IT to improve Ethopia'

Born and raised in the US and now residing in Addis Ababa, Feleg Tsegaye is a leading tech innovator in Ethiopia. DW's Manuela Kasper-Claridge talks to him in Davos about business, challenges and differences.

DW: Why did you come to Davos?

Feleg Tsegaye: I came to Davos to make some important business connections and hopefully grow my startup in Ethiopia. There were individuals here that I was very interested in meeting and maybe able to work with in the future. And I figured that must be the perfect place to introduce myself and make that connection.

You are also a Global Shaper. What does it mean to be a Global Shaper?

Being a Global Shaper means that you are a change-maker in your local community. So that means you are typically doing something new. You're doing something for the betterment of society in your communities and you're always active in your community to make it a better place.

What are you doing in your community in Addis Ababa?

I'm working on building an intracity logistics network to serve people in underserved and underrepresented markets essentially. So Ethiopia is a place where there are no addresses, all payments are done cash on delivery for the most part and it was severely lacking in a system for people to transport goods from one place to another efficiently.

Was it difficult to start your business there?

It was a bit of a challenge considering some custom development had to be done. A lot of the systems currently in use in the Western world simply wouldn't work in Ethiopia. And so we had to design and build our own systems and provide training to people who had never even seen a map before.

Now being here in Davos, Switzerland, what are the topics you want to talk about with these CEOs and the movers and shakers of the world?

Some of the topics I'm looking to talk about here in Davos are primarily logistics but also IT - a fantastic tool. In our case we use it to locate people on an everyday basis, so topics from cyber security to data management to data analytics are things that we want to learn more about so we can improve our offerings in Ethiopia.

What are the biggest challenges in this topic, from your point of view?

The biggest topics in cyber security are ensuring that any customer information that you keep and retain is adequately protected and also secure for the customer so that they're not getting in the hands of third parties. You know, our customers give us this information because they do trust us to manage them safely and securely and so it's very important to us that we fulfill that expectation that they have in us.

Now every Global Shaper has quite a tight schedule. Do you also need to meet famous and influential people?

If they intersect with what I'm looking to do and what our goals are in Ethiopia: Certainly, I hope to meet them. But my schedule is quite tight just meeting with the companies that do essentially what we do on a global scale. And we're looking to be a part of that community, that club of logistics providers. And so, there are enough people here. I have no end to the number of people I can meet that could assist us in that goal, but it's going to be certainly a very busy week for us.

Aside from your professional interest, who is on top of your agenda, personally?

I would personally love to meet US Vice President Joe Biden. Ever since I voted for that administration, I've always wanted to meet a member and I hope I get the opportunity.

Feleg Tsegaye ist part of the "Global Shapers Community," an Initiative of the World Economic Forum based on a network of hubs developed and led by young people who are driven to make a contribution to their communities.