CIM 2019/6 Destination

On the cusp of transformational growth

// Christian Boergen

With Flawless Events Yoadan Tilahun is setting new standards in Ethiopia. She sees Africa as a continent of inventive technology and opportunities for planners.

Yoadan Tilahun, Managing Director at Flawless Events. (Photo: Flawless Events)

CIM: What is the business concept of Flawless Events? Where do your clients come from?
Yoadan Tilahun: We are a team of experienced professionals who are passionate about problem solving and delivering events that live up to our brand name. We provide end-to-end event management services to private and public institutions alike. We have a significant number of return clients, who rehire us to do an event in a different country than the last. Referrals account for about half of our new clients, and the other half we acquire through sales and marketing.

What are the opportunities of Africa as a MICE continent?
They are so vast! First is the beauty and bounty of choices across the continent. You just have to know where to look. Secondly, professionals in different fields – especially in finance, tech, fashion and manufacturing – have already woken up to the opportunities and are traveling to the continent in droves. Africa’s Business Revolution, a book published in 2018 by McKinsey & Co. describes how the continent is a 1,2 bn-person market on the cusp of transformational growth. The meetings industry has yet to catch up on. This is a distinct opportunity for event planners to capitalize on; they can take their place front and center in brokering introductions between their guests and a new market. It’s a win-win situation for everyone – event planners, event owners, guests and the new market.

Africa is growing much faster than Europe. Does that attract meeting planners?
Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. And improving accessibility through tech has become a priority in various parts of the continent. We see this reflected in our own events. Since 2017, 25 to 35 per cent of our event portfolio is made up of fintech and information and communications technologies (ICT). These are both government and private sector led. The IAD Summit, for example, brings together service providers, policy makers and regulators every year. Smart Africa is another very high-profile annual tech event, organized by the Rwandan government. Both are open to the public and provide an opportunity to see how vibrant, relevant and productive it is to host an event in an African country.

What is your favourite location and why?
It is really difficult to pick a favourite. If pushed to pick one however, I will pick my country – Ethiopia. It’s incomparable in the depth of its history, its diversity of culture and the hospitality of the people. And for us as event organizers, we have time-tested relationships with vendors, venues and suppliers that always allow us to manifest our creativity and dedication into one-of-a-kind events for our clients.

What are the best incentive experiences Africa has to offer?
It really depends what you’re looking for. A few examples include: Lamu, Kenya – a beautiful seaside getaway; sunset cruises by dhow are a must. Namibia is among my favourite game viewing destinations. The secluded lodges in the Etosha and Bwabwata national parks make for an adven­turous team retreat. Ethiopia’s Semien Mountains in the Semien National Park are a World Heritage Site and ideal for an adrenaline-fueled trek among spectacular landscapes.

Thank you for the interview, Ms. Tilahun!

 

                                                          

Yoadan Tilahun, Managing Director at Flawless Events, has finished her studies of international business at the University of Memphis with a MBA. In 1998/99 she worked as Market Analyst for Medtronic Sofamor Danek, afterwards three years as Logistics Manager for Allied International Marketing Corporation in Virginia. At the World Bank Tilahun served from 2005 till 2007 as HR Analyst before she founded Flawless Events.