Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Konrad MELCHERS, Society for the Promotion of Museums in Ethiopia

In the paper I will argue for an Ethiopian business-based fund for the preservation of Ethiopian cultural and natural heritage. I will review the discourse about business and philanthropy, charity, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. This review will identify business cases that show win-win situations between the support of preserving heritage by companies and their commercial viability. For such cases it may be essential to develop a common ethical standard and a common brand for Ethiopian products potentially benefitting from such win-win situations. The ethical standard may be built on the experience of the internationally accepted standards such as fair-trade, organic certification and the 10 principles of the UNGlobalCompact. The brand name may reflect the heritage preservation aim and should be attractive for international tourists looking for souvenirs. Similarly it should support the international marketing of the products of the scheme. Thus some Ethiopian souvenir products benefitting from the ethical standards and the brand name may become internationally marketed general consumer goods such as: coffee, coffee flower honey, perfumes, balsam, wellness and beauty culture products, herbal pharmaceuticals, traditional Ethiopian coffee energy bars (Buna Quela), herbal teas, in particular traditional Ethiopian coffee leaf tea (Kuti), other drinks, fashion and apparels in general, shoes and other leather products, toys, music discs etc.I will discuss, whether the brand name “Queen of Sheba/Saba” fulfils these criteria best. Another area of discussion will be the priorities for Ethiopian heritage preservation in the context of need of support and of maximum support of marketing. Two beneficiaries of the heritage fund are outstanding: museums and the pristine coffee forests. Museum shops may become important first outlets for products that have a global marketing potential.Finally it will be discussed, how an Ethiopian heritage fund could be established becoming the financial cornerstone of an Ethiopian National Trust, in which all stakeholders are represented.