Habesha Darge is a passionate inventor who has designed, from everyday materials, a technology to convert plastic into fuels such as butane, diesel and benzene. Although he holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Addis Ababa University,
Habesha explains that he always had a “calling” for chemistry and engineering. From his home, he experiments, designs, tests and, shares the results of his dynamic research. His vision is to provide clean, carbon-free, and affordable fuel that will allow people to live a more dignified life in Ethiopia and across the world.
Zemi Yenus is the founder of the Joy Center for Children with Autism and Related Developmental Disorders, which provides educational and rehabilitation access to children with autism. She is the lead activist in Ethiopia raising awareness about the challenges and potentials of autistic children.
Zemi found herself in a struggle to inform and educate her community as she educated herself about autism after her second son, Yousuf, was born with autism. After being forced to move Yousuf to six different schools and paying two to three times the normal tuition, Zemi took her son out of school and started the Joy Center, a place where children with autism could learn the skills necessary to become productive members of society.
Among her many innovations, Zemi developed “ABUGIDA FONETIKS”, a language curriculum and tool for autistic kids that uses the Geez alphabet (the root of northern Ethiopian languages such as Tigraic and Amharic and Fidel).
Today, the Joy Center serves 62 youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders and 450 other youth are on the waiting list.
An engineer in the daytime and an aspiring musician, Saba grew up in Eritrea. At 16, her family moved to Ethiopia during the 1998 war. Saba graduated from Addis Ababa University with a degree in Construction Management and has since launched a respectful musical career.
Saba grew up watching Boyz II Men and Brandy videos on MTV, but also listening to the classic Eritrean melodies her mom played in her shop. Today Saba successfully bridges the gap between these Western pop vocalists and her deep roots in Tigrigna and Amharic folklore.
Her music is a mixture of soul like ancient Aster Aweke, with a touch of old Motown meets the smooth and gravy like sound of old Muluken Melesse with the distinct like voice of Zeritu Kebede. It is new and very different and quite distinct compared to the pop music heard on the streets of Ethiopia. Saba's new Album will include English, Amharic as well as Tigrigna songs.
Fasil Giorghis is an Ethiopian architect who is chair holder of conservation of urban and architectural heritage at EIABC, Addis Ababa University. For more than twenty years, he has devoted his time to the study and preservation of the architectural heritage of his country, from traditional housing to historic towns. He has participated in numerous international conferences and contributed articles on sustainable architecture and preservation of cultural heritage. In 2008 he published a book entitled “Addis Ababa the City and its Urban and Architectural Heritage from 1886-1941”.
His architectural design work in his private consulting firm focuses on regional hotels, public buildings, cultural centers, and private residences, for which he melds use of local material, indigenous knowledge and environmental concerns in contemporary design. Some of the buildings he designed include “the red terror memorial museum”, the classrooms and auditorium of Alliance Ethio-Francaise, and the adaptive re-use of the Goethe Institute. As a designer and amateur artist he has also participated in several local and international exhibitions.
Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie is the founder of Ecological Products of Ethiopia - ECOPIA - which assists poor Ethiopian organic frames to orchestrate the value chain of organic food, cosmetics and herbal medicine production, processing and marketing in Ethiopia and in Europe.
Mitslal lived in Europe for 20 years before she moved back to Ethiopia to establish ECOPIA in 2007. As a profitable company, ECOPIA also aims to contribute to poverty eradication in rural Ethiopia through the processing and marketing of organic and natural products which create value for both producers at the base of the economic pyramid and consumers in Ethiopia and the world.
Ecopia has designed, processed and marketed 54 products of organic farmers by integrating simple techniques of food processing, management and sales services which has impacted local economies, and made traditional ecological farming methods more profitable.
Mitslal has over 20 years of experience in advising governments, international organizations and companies in fields of development, security, arms control and disarmament.
Kapo is a volunteer watchdog for Cultural bio-diversity conservation in the Gamo highlands of Ethiopia.
He was featured in a highly acclaimed documentary film, “A Thousand Suns,” which tells the story of the Gamo Highlands, one of the most densely populated rural regions of Africa which has been farming sustainably for 10,000 years. The film explores how the interconnected worldview of the Gamo people is fundamental in achieving long-term sustainability, both in the region and beyond.
Kapo is currently the director of the Tourist Office in Arba Minch and directs The Society for the Practice and Maintenance of Indigenous Cultural, Environmental and Spiritual Knowledge