This is an exciting time for Ethiopia as economic growth continues. While the country also had to grapple with the economic crisis and shock of COVID-19 along with the rest of the world, data suggests that recovery is likely in 2021.
The government is actively implementing the second phase of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which seeks to grow the annual GDP by 11 percent through investing in infrastructure and manufacturing businesses. Additionally, there’s been a positive trend in poverty reduction in both urban and rural areas of Ethiopia. According to reports by The World Bank, the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line has been declining, from 30 percent in 2011 to 24 percent in 2016 (latest data available).
As the country’s economy continues to improve, this is also an opportunity for Ethiopians to start working on their financial wellness. Here are some key tips for a financially healthy 2021:
You know what people tend to do when they start earning more? They spend more. This is called “lifestyle inflation,” where people start buying more things that they can now afford but don’t really need. Discern what your needs are versus your wants, and make sure that you attend to those needs first.
In a country where the average cost of living is around 26,400 birr (670 USD) and the national average salary is only 7,600 birr (193 USD), creating an effective budget is hard. Statistics show that nearly 40 percent of this salary is spent on rent, while 18.2 percent goes to utilities. This means that more than half of your income immediately goes to paying for a roof over your head. In order to spend mindfully you need to create a detailed budget plan that exactly defines how much you have left after rent, bills, and savings. This will give you accurate parameters on what you can and cannot afford.
Swap out old money
In one of our September news articles, we talked about how the Ethiopian Bankers Association reported that there were 115 billion birr circulating outside of financial institutions—almost double the figure of 63 billion birr in 2016. This report brought about a need to replace much of the country’s currency. 10, 50, and 100 birr notes will be out of circulation and the first 200 birr notes will join the market.
Start swapping your old bills early to avoid unnecessary stress and to be ready for the change when it’s enacted. By doing this, you’re also helping the government curb the informal circulation of money. And in addition to that, this is a move that will reduce corruption and currency shortages in the country.
If possible invest your money in ventures that will generate a steady income. This can range from rental income to using your personal vehicle for advertising. For those looking for new investment options, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has endorsed the establishment of a stock market in the country. While investing in the stock market is riskier than other ventures it can generate faster and larger returns. The key is to be risk adverse. This is why an EQi roundup of financial strategies for the new financial year states “the golden rule is that the stock market rewards patient investors.” If you are careful and do due-diligence in your research then your return rates could be quite high.
Investing in a sustainable venture is a growing investment trend, where fund groups choose companies that help solve environmental, social, and governance issues. One way to go about this type of investment is working with these fund groups. We featured one such group called the Addis Ababa Angel Investors Network in a past write-up. The network invests in small startups and businesses in exchange for equity aims, building up a strong startup ecosystem in the country.
Despite the tough year leading up to 2021, there are still several things to look forward to—and being financially healthy is definitely one of them!