Think Big. Stay Ahead of the Curve

Jul 22 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Addis Abeba's eateries seem to be thriving with innovative dishes and interior designs. It might be deceiving to someone as new places are sprouting like chicken eggs, with a booming and mesmerising atmosphere, despite inflation and rising living costs.

But data from Addis Abeba Trade Bureau shows the number of restaurants that received licences in 2021 decreased by almost half from the previous year. Last year, there was a 65pc decline, with only 93 restaurants getting licensed.

When considering starting a business, the first idea that springs to mind and to my acquaintances is opening a restaurant. Besides the opportunity to create an ambience that ensures a wonderful experience for customers, they are drawn to the idea of being self-employed.

I believe it is an area where someone can start small and work their way up to larger establishments. However, it is important to recognise the burden that comes with it.

Conducting thorough research and understanding the menaces involved is paramount before starting any business. The costs can be overwhelming when it is a restaurant in particular.

One will need to invest in a commercial kitchen, equipment, inventory, and marketing—in addition to paying employees, rent, and utilities. These expenses can accumulate quickly, making it challenging to make a profit or break even.

The unpredictability nature of the industry is another concern. Trends in the food market are dynamic and owners must be able to adapt to market changes and update the menu to keep the place refreshed and exciting.

The restaurant business is extremely competitive; it can be challenging to stand out. As a result, owners must have a unique selling point that will entice customers to their establishment. They must ensure that their food is excellent and their service is exceptional.

Readying for unexpected occurrences, such as outbreaks of foodborne illness or natural disasters, is essential. It demonstrates a commitment to the health and safety of all those involved in the restaurant and can protect the reputation and success of the business.

The bulk of new restaurants in the city have been established in prominent locations. The Bole area, particularly during lunchtime, may be deceiving as residents are well off. But it is merely a façade that does not represent the majority.

Unfortunately, many overlook serving the middle class; leaving them vulnerable to inflation.

A well-known brand attracts customers willing to pay 75 Br for a cup of coffee, while someone else uses the same amount to survive through the day. Similarly, real estate companies plaster high price homes while many struggle with rent payments, making it a far reality to consider buying a home.

Running a business can be demanding, but it can also be rewarding. But identifying the need and researching solutions is crucial.

The lack of imagination in developing new business concepts is evident with proliferating restaurants that do not propose unique value. Instead of expanding into the fifth eatery in one area, considering opening a grocery store to supply them will diversify the market.

A new business idea can be successful if people are already familiar with the existing sites, providing a customer base. It is not necessary to follow others when one can lead with a fresh initiative. It is a waste of resources.

Success can be achieved through unique strategies that appeal to the public while maintaining a low-profit margin. This approach can be applied to beauty salons and cosmetics businesses, as seen with thrift stores that currently overrun the city.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 22,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1212]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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