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July 27th, 2009
The Market Maker
Full Episode

WIDE ANGLE travels to East Africa to tell the dramatic story of an Ethiopian economist on a mission. Seeking a market-based solution to ending hunger in her famine-plagued country, she creates Ethiopia’s first commodities exchange. What she didn’t count on was a world financial crisis getting in the way.

  • Abel Girma

    I hope that you will do a follow up on this story.
    Thank you Wide Angle, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Market Maker’.

  • ashenafi

    a great documentary, keep up the good work. god bless u guys

  • ukbased

    Gosh! The content is still unavailable! Is it b/c I’m in the UK? I hope not, as I was really looking forward to watching the episode! Cheers

  • Brook Haile

    This is a proud moment to see the commodity market live and actively trading on a daily basis. Dr. Eleni is an exemplary citizen to start up such an indispensable market. I hope that in the coming near future we will have the stock exchange established in Addis Ababa as well to improve the financial market across the nation. It is also great to see a U.S. based TV station showing something exciting happening in Ethiopia in addition to the grim pictures people are used to watch about Africa. Thank you PBS.

  • sam terie

    Dear Wide angle producers, thank you for taking your time and energy in order to do your report (story) in this amazing women who is doing what most Ethiopian abroad think is the impossible. Hope you will see it through in the progress and benefit ECEX brings especially to those who were underserved.

  • Maya

    Ms. Gabre-Madhin exhibits extraordinary courage. I am not sure but it seemed at times Aaron Brown was doubting her ability to do it or criticizing her efforts. Nevertheless, great doc.

  • wondish

    Truly, Africa needs people like Eleni who can make a huge impact in the daily lives of the poors. I want to thank Aaron Brown and PBS to make this episode possible.

  • BaristaOnDutY

    Great Doc.I Can’t Wait To Meet Her, One Of The Reasons I Carry Ethiopian Coffees, Very Interesting Concept, Because I Was In The Development Stages Myself!! Thanks Eleni c|_|

  • Ulrich Hess

    How can I get access to this film now? can you please send the link? thanks, Ulrich

  • Teddy

    Thank you wide angle,It is inspiring for most Ethiopians who are living abroad to go back home and make a difference. Good luck Eleni!!!!!

  • Zinash Kebede

    What a great documentary! Eleni and your crew,thank you for trying to make a difference in people’s life in Ethiopia.

  • Johannes

    Very disappointing!! My beloved PBS serving as mouthpiece for the gimmicks of a corrupt and oppressive regime.
    If you want to test the truth about ECX and the overall ethiopian situation please read the following article

    Shame on you Aaron!!

  • mula

    What a shame.That is why Ethiopia is the poorest contry in the world .like Eleni for ther personal interest and steal that poor farmer.I totally disapointed wede eri EleniGabremadhin

  • Ted Tekle

    I am very proud to see a sister going by back to our Mother Land, Ethiopia with a goal to give back in an area which is absolutely needed. To help eliminate poverty and bring more technology and progress. As a western educated Professional Ethiopian, I have always beloved in order to eliminate poverty we need to change the local subsistence farming to small scale and large scale commercial farming. With the Helen is setting up
    We need to mobilize modern farming activities. I will volunteer if given the opportunity to go back and work. Congratulations, Teddy Tekle

  • Siemen

    I am very inspired by this lady… specially the Bene character. Sweat and stress for a worthy cause… Wish them success. Get the politics out of it.

  • Nahom

    I wish Ethiopia has more people like Dr. Elleni Gabre-Madhin. She is knowledgeable, passionate and dedicated professional. She has sacrificed a lot and she deserves praise. Thank you Aaron Brown for this presentation.

  • henok

    Hearing from the likes of “Johannes and Mulu” reminds me of a saying “a person with a hammer always think his problems to be nail”…. it is important to show critism on once work. But, complet “haterage” is not away forward, not at least for ethiopia…. So, i commend Dr Elani’s in her recent achievent, and i trust some of the issues, would be resloved promptly!

  • Boressa

    I can’t see the film, it is not vailable can any one tell me how to access it?

  • marc

    Hugest pile of s… ever seen!

  • sami

    Please search the reality before you go for comment. Is it really a free exchange of commodity? Read this and many others about ECX in Eth

  • sammy

    this is not what we need to help our poor and desprate all over ethiopia,we don’t need this scum today, our traditional way of life have to be reserved for our own good, she is introducing a very dangers system because our leaders are most corrupted in africa,a handfull of elites control everything and i will garantee you meles zenawi of weyane and his close associates already controlled her behind the seen.

  • wube

    Dangerous hype behind Ethiopian commodity exchange
    Written on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 2:44 am by ethioforum

    By Seid Hassan, Murray State University – 29 July 2009 — It is our hope that many Ethiopians have watched the PBS/WNET documentary film – The Market Maker/Wide Angle – which was broadcast beginning on July 23, 2009. This documentary followed the Ethiopian economist, Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, who is the CEO of the relatively newly established Ethiopian Commodity Exchange. Many of us were waiting for the documentary to show us how the ECX could “… transform the Ethiopian economy by becoming a global commodity market of choice,” as claimed in the ECX’s main web page. That was not to be.

    We were disappointed (but not surprised) by the failure of the documentary film which failed to show us the difficulties that the ECX has and would face, let alone Dr. Eleni’s failure to explain to us how the ECX could “transform the Ethiopian economy.” The anchor of the documentary, a renowned journalist, Mr. Aaron Brown, opened the discussion by asking a question HOW the commodity exchange would lift the millions of Ethiopian poor farmers out of poverty. We were anxiously expecting Dr. Eleni to explain to us how many millions of non-literate peasants would read the coded commodity prices and use them to their advantage; how the ECX could function and survive in a country where free markets are non-existent; explain to us the mechanisms whereby the peasants would be able to obtain the necessary information about markets in a country where the independent media is slammed shut by the government authorities, a country where the limited media outlets (one of the poorest and lowest penetration rates in the world), such as the telephone, Internet, radio, TV, newspapers are totally controlled by the government. For those who don’t know the Ethiopian situation, we would like to inform them that even those who have access to the limited electronic and print media are so fed up with the government’s endless lies and false propaganda that they only pay attention to those foreign-owned and operated media outlets such as the BBC, VOA, Deutsche Welle, al-jezeera and the Eritrean TV.

    Moreover, those of us of Ethiopian origin were expecting the documentary to show us the difficulties and lack of coordination between market participants. In particular, we were expecting the producers of the documentary to have gone deep into the rural areas of Ethiopia and show us the daily lives of the peasants, their unbearable poverty, the meager outputs they produce, and how they “dump”, which is true to this day, their small products to any price they could fetch during harvest times, how they would be able to know what the ECX is (let alone their lack of understanding how it works). It was not to be.

    As Thomas Paul who had watched the documentary aptly put it, the documentary failed to show the criteria for success, the market inefficiencies before the implementation of the ECX, how one could measure the benefits of an efficient trading system. The same observer also noted that Dr. Eleni failed to show any raw data supporting the ripple effects of market efficiencies that she talked about, the impacts of the price variances, the challenges, and implementation strategies. Most importantly, both the documentary and Dr. Eleni failed to show us what kind of regulatory schemes exist to build trust, which is a paramount currency in a (newly formed) commodity exchange system. The initiative is a start, assuming that all the necessary ingredients are in place (which is not the case), but it is far from the success story the documentary tried to portray. The same astute observer also noted: “The benefits and theoretical advantages of making trading easy, is a function of trust which in turn is a function of independence from the hands of the government. … “[W]hat was glaringly evident was that the system has so far failed to win the trust of stakeholders, as evidenced by the government’s abrupt shutdown of an efficient auction system by which coffee was traded previously. As soon as stakeholders, farmers and merchants alike, were forced to transact through the ECX, they went underground. Some were accused of ‘hoarding’ and thrown in jail…” [Taken from a message posted on Ethiopian Email Exchange Network, posted on July 23, 2009.]

    Let us briefly delve into some of the characteristics of a commodity exchange system and relate those characteristics to the ECX. In this particular article (our first installment on the issue), we show that the ECX is neither a Free Market based transparency and a level-playing field, nor it is intended to be, at least from the government’s stand point.

    Since its establishment, which began its operation in April of 2008, the ECX has never been a free exchange market. The description “free commodity exchange market” was and still is just a PR stunt and a pretext to hoodwink donors and unsuspecting public. We know free markets galvanize private resources by bringing those who are willing and able to buy and sell when they try to maximize their own individual utility. We also know and understand that commodity exchange mechanisms could play vital roles provided that they are set up properly and allowed to function with minimal interference by the authorities. By the same taken, the ECX could alleviate, but not transform, some of the problems that the Ethiopian economy is in, again, provided that all the necessary conditions that will make a “free” commodity exchange to function properly. But there are a number of both conceptual and practical problems with the EXC.

    A. Transparency: For more than a year, we have been looking for the identity of the officers and regulators of the ECX. As everyone knows, such a disclosure of the identity, background and financial interest of the individuals and the businesses involved in the exchange is paramount to the well-functioning and transparency of any commodity and financial exchange institution. We are happy to see, after more than a year of not doing so, the ECX putting out the identity of the officers, the regulators and trading members on the official website, but a detailed public record of those individuals and companies is necessary.

    B. Market Information (lack of): The ECX on its only official website claims information being delivered all over the country through Radio, Television, and SMS. But it failed to inform us that there is no privately owned media infrastructure in the country. It failed to honestly inform the reader and the observer that not only the government owned and operated media outlets are biased but their usefulness to market participants is almost non-existent (for example, the internet penetration rates as compared to the rest of the world is only 0.02%!) The claim that market information is transmitted all over the country is, therefore, misleading and false.

    C. Credit: Transparency of financing is a critical component of commodity trade. However, in addition to the listing of some of the ‘private’ banks, it is important to fully disclose the role of the government and the involvement of the ruling party owned credit establishments, particularly their relations to the private banks.

    D. Storage: As a government agency, the ECX owns and operates the largest storage facilities. In so doing, it enjoys complete dominance in the storage of commodities throughout the country, thereby making this same government agency the price-maker. Everyone involved knows that impartiality to the private traders does not exist and the government is crowding out private storage operators. Moreover, another government agency, the Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise (EGTE), which is the largest grain purchaser in the country, is a member-trader of the exchange, owns major storage, transportation facilities throughout the country and directly competes against private traders. It has been recently disclosed that the EGTE destabilized the commodity market, due to its market dominance and the preference it gets from the government, and yet, no mention of this fact is made by the CEO of the ECX.

    E. Transportation: As mentioned earlier, the dominance of the Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise and the ruling party owned transportation operators are equally mentioned as private operators but they actually dominate its control. Such unequal relationship and favoritism is not only contrary to the normal operations of a market but the lack of disclosure their dominance, favoritism party owned parastatals, and their unfettered access to government regulators exacerbates the lack of trust on the part of the ECX.

    F. Regulation: The government officials who are listed as regulators, including the Prime Minister’s involvement in the ECX’s affairs are the major causes of market destabilization and the failure of the exchange as a market institution.

    In addition, the ruling party affiliated traders, financers, transporters, and exporters should have been banned from the exchange. The Prime Minster as the leader of his party must disclosed his party owned enterprises and their financial interests to the public before they are permitted in the exchange. Moreover, the ECX should have disclosed the names of the donor countries and international institutions that are financing the establishment of the exchange, including their financial interests and how they would be accountable for any improprieties that either their agents or those whom they support could commit. They should have demanded the disclosure of the financial interests of the officers as well. Unfortunately, none of the above disclosures are made so far, thereby creating an appearance of conflict of interest.

    We conclude, therefore, based on the problems we listed above and other issues, there is a lack of market information, lack of contract enforcement, and a lack of trust on the ECX. In particular, the asymmetric information (those who are close to the government possessing all the information and outright favoritism) has been damaging to the ECX and will continue to be so.

    Furthermore, let it be known that no commodity exchange will work (let alone function and assist the 82 million Ethiopians) without transparency and accountability. Let it be known that there are no commodity exchange markets that have flourished under repressive, parasitic, nepotistic and oligarchic regimes as it exists in Ethiopia. Let it be known that there is no “free commodity exchange” where repression is the order of the day, where the Ethiopian people are so petrified by the repression of Meles Zenawi’s regime that they are leaving their country in drones. We believe there are better ways to feed starving Ethiopians, currently over ten million of them being dependent international food aid.

    Let it be known that a commodity exchange, no matter how glittery it may seem, will not work in a malaise economy and with people under increasingly grinding poverty.

    Let it be known that there is no true commodity exchange in a country where group of people who claim to represent a minority ethnic group, who have illegally transferred the means of production to themselves and the parastatals they fully control. Let it be known that the ECX adventure has been an exercise in futility, in part because the circumstances for a true commodity exchange system to function do not exist and in part because, as it became evident by Meles Zenawi’s “cutting of the hands” of the Ethiopian coffee exporters, the entire exercise is designed to have full control of the commanding heights of the Ethiopian economy.

    It is also about time for those renowned journalists to speak on behalf of their colleagues, members of the Ethiopian independent media whose businesses have been closed, who have languished in the prisons of Meles Zenawi with concocted up charges and who have been forced into exile. There is no and cannot be a free commodity exchange market under such repressive circumstances.

    It is about time to recognize that millions of Ethiopians get hurt with such gimmickry and uncalled for hypes. … Let it be known that the ECX is another well orchestrated gimmick, one of those government set up mega projects which are designed to control both the outputs and prices of the Ethiopian farmers, particularly the commodities which are the source of foreign exchange. Let be known that, as the saying goes: “all that glitters is not really gold!”

    Let there be no more hypes, no more deceptions. Most importantly, it is time for those enablers of Meles’s greedy and kleptocratic regime that the creation of hypes real consequences. As a gimmickry mega project, the ECX has been and will be used to both squander the meager resources of the country and as means of controlling the outputs of the Ethiopian peasants. Let it be known that those who are a part of this process, including those at the helm of the ECX will be accountable for what they have done to Ethiopia and its people.

    The author and his collaborators could be reached at

  • Tadesse

    I’m very happy for our poor farmers for this trade opportunity. I‘m also happy and inspired by Eleni and her team for transferring research into practice and start delivering their promise at this worst market time.

    May God continue to bless their dedication!

  • Mulu GS

    I would like to thank Aaron Brown for the great job he has done bringing Ethiopia into the World spotlight with a positive note! I would also congratulate ECX and Dr. Eleni for the wonderful start. Everyone knows we have a long way to go.

    Though not unexpected, I am on the other hand very sad to hear some Ethiopians (eg. Dr. Seid Hassan) write about this as a negative development. It is a pity that Dr. Hassan even tries to intimidate Aaron Brown and ECX for what they have done. It is the stupid hate that is leading him and his cohorts to act and behave like this. As a professional my self, I am very sorry to hear a Professor at a US university would dare to say things that could exacerbate ethnic tension by accusing those in ECX as “group of people who claim to represent a minority ethnic group”. God Bless!


    I am an Ethiopian. I should be happy and proud of ECX. But, I am not. It is not because I am an enemy, or oppose the fascist killer regime and ECX or her are related in many ways I know about, or this is a bad policy.

    The operation plan so small which can not run or be able to be handled by the corrupt nonsense non intellectuals. The brain drain has already affected the society and the current plan will significantly affect even the current ways.


  • selam

    Nothing works with this corrupted regime. Only, the illegimitate officials are using her to loot more. Eleni, should think again.

    God help us to end the tyranny

  • Ayele

    The woman, whatever her skill or acadamic background is irrilrvant since the same research can be done by her grandfathers or those who are less than them. The point is that she is an instrument of the ruling class who came from the “golden” people of Tigrai.

  • Andreas

    Kudos Elleni on your endeavor to transform the lives of Ethiopian subsistence farmers.
    Keep up the good work.


  • Dalol

    I am suspicious of Dr. Eleni’s intention. Because of the fact that of her double talk she might have good intention going back to
    Ethiopia in the beginning but when I see the evolution of the ECX I have doubted her and her colleagues true intention these are people who had hidden agenda of benefiting from the very people who they supposedly say will help the reason I said this because if they really concerned about the Ethiopian farmers why concentrate on cash crops like coffee and sesame this cash crops farmers are always well to do they don’t even need Dr. Eleni’s or any others peoples help. why put grain farmers in the back burner according to her own saying that’s what she set out to help I doubt people like her who use pretext of helping the poor farmer when their real intention is to lining up their pockets.

  • Yared

    To those diaspora intelectuals and those who have the resource, Eleni is a raw model how one person can change a country and a society.

    Thank you Aaron Brown, Thank you Eleny and her team

  • dawit

    Keep up the good work Eleni and thanks Aaron Brown and PBS for making this episode possible.

  • kecho

    First, Eleni,,,Thank you for your courageous effort to do something that have never been done.
    Second, For the HATERS,Ayeee Abesha,,,Huuule Tertarrii,complain, complain, Euufff!, Selechachehugn.
    Third, Blame the gov. for every little thing, OMG. For once let this not be about the government. Bekka, some of you, even if your pants don’t fit b/c of your “borch”, it will still be the gov. fault. is in it?
    Fourth, Hate is cancer.

  • Luna

    Wube, Thank you, no one cares about us. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is waht matters to all
    that are involved. Eleni she is one of them Abro ye bala Abro Yachebechibal.

  • Yiheyis

    Good job Dr. Eleni! I am with you all the way.For those who doubt for the system to work well please give it sometime before you judge. Offcourse majority of Ethiopians hate the government, but please don’t associate this God given talented person with the hated brutual gov’t. Like she saide her intention is very simple- to facilitate farmers in trading their produce and contribute in the reduction of poverty and famine. And believe her.
    God Bless!!

  • Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH

    This is an extra ordinary effort to bring ancient Ethiopia to the modern digital and global Commodity Market.

    Yes, there are challenges and opportunities in this great venture. It will take time, before some 77 Million Peasants will understand and participate fully in this market.

    However, this is a great start. Dr Eleni, Aaron Brown and the Ethiopian colleagues and government have to be congratulated for making a transformational move in making the Ethiopian market gradually move towards transparency and accountability, based on standardized data system that will be made available to all stakeholders.

    Like all transformational activities,there will be challenges and nay sayers, especially from the Communist Diaspora who have not contributed any new ideas for the past 40 years except regurgitating the same out of date Communist Mantra while themselves living in the West where so much of Capitalist Market is having one of its historic challenges.

    Eventually, the market will estabilize, and the people will know how to manage it.

    I have watched this film when it was screened at the Ethiopian Embassy, with the Dr Eleni and Aaron Brown making their speech in explaining how the project is progressing.

    Both received a standing ovation and appreciation from the international crowd that attended the evening.

    Since then, I had the opportunity to talk and share Dr Eleni”s vision at small circles, and truly, she is an amazing human being and talented professional with dignity and humility that demands our respect.

    She is indeed a pioneer in her field for making such great efforts to introduce Ethiopia to the modern Commodity Exchange Market.

    Remember: The Ethiopian peasants in the North perished not because there was not enough food but it was not made available to them, when food was rotting in the South due to storage and appropriate distribution.

    No doubt, that the current ECX will change that paradigm of hopelessness.

    We have to open our eyes and see better opportunities. It is time that those who criticise her efforts should appreciate apathy, and doing nothing is a much more henious crime than making a mistake as you try to transform the eonomy of a nation of 80 million people.

    Thank you Dr Eleni, Aaron Brown, Wide Angle and PBS for giving us the opportunity to dream for a better future for Ethiopia and Africa in general.’

    I foresee the current ECX adding other commodities and other African countries and make Addis Commodities Exchange the envy of the world in the years to come.

    The Ethiopian Airlines is one such example that has transformed Africa. If we can do it with modern Jet Airlines System, the EXC will be no challenge for creative and pioneering Ethiopoians like Dr Eleni Gebre-Madhin.

    I was so impressed when I saw her two young sons sitting beside her as she has managed to succeed not only in her profession but in bringing up two brillian young chidren as well.

    This is truly a successful Diaspora Returnee Story an excellent example for the rest of The Global Diaspora Community. in the end, If there is a will, there is a way.

    Belai Habre-Jesus, MD, MPH

  • Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH

    Congratulations! Dr Eleni, Aaron Brown and Wide Angle

    This is indeed a remarkable journey for Dr Eleni, Aaron Brown and the rest of us who watched this transformational effort in changing the Ethiopian Market Economy.

    I had tried earlier to give a detailed comment and lost it while attempting to submit it.

    I would like to explore that this is a Great Diaspora Returnee Story and an example for all those talented Diaspora we too can make a difference if we just try and take a risk

    For the critics, let us criticise based on facts rather than fantasy and hearsay.

    The ECX will be a transformational effort not only for Ethiopia but also for Africa. Remember the Ethiopian Airlines, it is making a profit when the large Airlines like the British Airways are having serious challenges.

    We need to trust our people and our abilities. Dr Eleni has shown us that if there is a will there is a way. I am proud of Ethiopian Women who continue to amaze us with their tenacity, resiliency and creativity.

    Surely, we can take a great lesson from this experience. I am impressed and we can do even more if we work with her and the Ethiopian people art this critical transformational time in our history.

    Now is the time to work and criticize later! I hope I succeed this time in submitting this comment. If not, I will try again tomorrow

    Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH

  • sara

    Iwould like to thank PBS and Aaron Brown for this documentary.God bless you Dr.Eleni.Keep up the good work.

  • Mekedes

    Why do we need Mr Aron Brown to tell us about our country?? Mr Aron, you are a fine journalist. However, you do not know my pain and sufferings. Where are Ethiopian Journalist??

  • Mela

    Mrac, Sami, Sammy, wube, I gree with you, Tank you.

  • Lee

    Is it just me, or is the documentory unavaliable to everyone since yesterday?

  • Eyasu

    For 18 years we’ve been talking about the problems in Ethiopia but we’re scared talk about solutions. Now that Dr. Eleni is there (In Ethiopia) to try to help, instead of waiting to see the results, we’re still crying foul. For once, let’s shift our thought towards the people of Ethiopia. Let’s try to find solutions!

  • Girum

    Eleni, I am really proud of you. Great Job. This document encourages every Ethiopian’s to do his part for his country. I believe with the help of God our country will be out of poor counties list soon.

  • Peter

    Thank you Mr. Aaron Brown and PBS for such great show. I would like to give a thumbs up to Dr.Gabre-Madhin and her team.

  • Getachew

    “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
    John F. Kennedy.

    I am very proud of Eleni Gebre-Madhin effort to bring some change in Ethiopia. This is what the country needs today. Most of us who are educated in the west we don’t think in a positive change instead we are pointing our finger to criticize the government by all means. However, Eleni is a model for all of us to think “we can make a difference if we try” Our county needs all of us to bring the country out of poverty in every area. Economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin has ambitious vision — to found the first commodities market in Ethiopia, bringing rates and standards (not to mention trading systems, warehousing and data centers) to the trade of crops. Her effort is working to build Ethiopia’s first commodities market. Re-establishing the profit motive for farmers, she believes, could help turn the world’s largest recipient of food aid into a regional food basket. Food aid does not work at all, and what we need is a free market economy. Ethiopia has been one of the major recipients of international aid in recent times. According to OECD-DAC statistics, net ODA to Ethiopia amounted to US$1.94 billion in 2006, making it the 7th largest recipient among 169 aid receiving developing countries. All this aid money that flows to the country does not really help the poor. What Ethiopia needs is a free market economy the one that is started by Eleni, and we have to follow on her foot to bring positive change if we really care about Ethiopia. Thank you Eleni-I am a proud supporter of your idea. Free market is working for the west and will work for Ethiopia and Africa.
    Thank you
    Getachew T
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Seifu Teklu

    Many thanks to Wide Angle for presenting this programme and experience. I wish success for Dr. Eleni and all her teams. I hope their programme work in helping millions in Ethiopia.

  • Getachew

    “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
    John F. Kennedy.

    I am very proud of Eleni Gebre-Madhin effort to bring some change in Ethiopia. This is what the country needs today. Most of us who are educated in the west we don’t think in a positive change instead we are pointing our finger to criticize the government by all means. However, Eleni is a model for all of us to think “we can make a difference if we try” Our county needs all of us to bring the country out of poverty in every area. Economist Eleni Gabre-Madhin has ambitious vision — to found the first commodities market in Ethiopia, bringing rates and standards (not to mention trading systems, warehousing and data centers) to the trade of crops. Her effort is working to build Ethiopia’s first commodities market. Re-establishing the profit motive for farmers, she believes, could help turn the world’s largest recipient of food aid into a regional food basket. Food aid does not work at all, and what we need is a free market economy. Ethiopia has been one of the major recipients of international aid in recent times. According to OECD-DAC statistics, net ODA to Ethiopia amounted to US$1.94 billion in 2006, making it the 7th largest recipient among 169 aid receiving developing countries. All this aid money that flows to the country does not really help the poor. What Ethiopia needs is a free market economy the one that is started by Eleni, and we have to follow on her foot to bring positive change if we really care about Ethiopia. Thank you Eleni-I am a proud supporter of your idea. Free market is working for the west and will work for Ethiopia and Africa.

    Thank you

  • Ras Geta

    I was distressed that PBS took out resources to produce such production about Ethiopia’s commodity exchange system. Yes, commodity exchange for a country that is at the bottom toll of list of poorest countries in the world. A country that failed to feed its own population again and again to a point only foreign donation of food has been the source of survival to it’s people. Commodity exchange for a country that still uses primitive farming mechanism of animal power rather than modernized machinery. In general, having ECX in Ethiopia is farming the Sahara desert to grow vegetables with out a water supply. Why is that Elleni failed to see the productivity of the Farmers who account for 88% of 70 million populations. These farmers lack equipment, fertilizers, technological skills, irrigation system etc and not only they are under a system that limit them from owning a land, they are denied a simple movement from one fertile land to another due too ethnical boundaries.
    Eleni is a very intelligent, energetic and attractive young lady. She is an articulate orator with depth of knowledge and experience in Economics. A mother of two with ambition to succeed. How ever, Eleni struggles with a conflicting vision and super ego. Eleni’s vision to eliminate hunger versus her ego to make a name for her self have a bearing to turn her into a political weapon against any one who have a deferent take on the current governing body. The sole purpose of establishing ECX is to destroy or silence those individuals who made a living by exporting coffee. It is also an ego satisfaction for Eleni and Melesse. It has little or nothing for the famine and drought.
    What a waste of intellect and beauty. I hope one day this situation will revert to an opportunity where experienced and educated Ethiopians will go back to their country and focus on building a united ONE Ethiopia which flourish pure democracy and a system that based on equality by embracing all Ethiopians with out any prejudice of religion, gender, place of origin, political affiliation etc

  • des_pes

    Dissent is good but not in the expense of poverty reduction efforts. During the Derg era, a very famous ariforce pilot used to come to our house. We used to have lengthy animated political arguments. I was a E.P.R.P member, obviously he was in the Derg army. One thing he told me was so vivid in my mind to this day, he told me, the demise of Derg should not come through the disintegration of Ethiopia. He died when his plane was shot down in the northern Eritrean mountains. The removal of TPLF should not through come thru unending poverty of the people.

  • maddis

    please I need some people like seid hassen to come to Ethiopia and bring a new idea like dr Eleni did instead of writing negative development on someone work.please do’t relate everything with poltices.

  • eddy

    i can not access the video video?????????????? its unavailable!

  • Help

    Tried to download the Podcast but it is not working. Anyone got advice?

  • Hagerye

    The hunger will go away once the market established? What a joke, but it isn’t funny at all. This video it doesn’t tell whatsoever that benefits to the poor. Oh sorry it tells you a lot about the evil deed of Meles and ECX-Ganges, INC. what a crazy endless loop have misfortunate Ethiopian people have to go.

  • Elias Negash

    Thank You so much Wide Angle for this beautiful story. Eleni Gebre-Madhin congratulations you are an amazing lady, I’m so proud of you as an Ethiopian. You and your team are doing something so important for our beloved country, my God bless you and your families.

  • samuel Tsegaye

    please let us all think for a moment. what woud it be look like if “Derge” was on power till this day? the answer is clear. I clearly see that the current goverment uses well educated poeple to serve our country. Any one in right mind can do best for his/her country better than ever. I don’t think most us who reside in the west would give up our luxury life style and go back to africa. let us be honest!!! it take more than a courage to be Dr Eleni and her team.

  • feseha

    people, we are taking a baby step. So let us all be part of the solution not a broblem. Stop the negativity.

  • mula

    Place don’t say u born in Ethiopia.Ican prove your encesent.YOU said “My relative is born in Addis ababa”is that correct?Wher in addis?K K K K K K.Tale as the true say Keren ER.I do belive one thing u now New Yourk city,but U dont have any idea about Ethiopian’s pore farmer life. stop stealing that pore people.

  • mula

    Place don’t say u born in Ethiopia.i can prove your sentenc.

  • Aweke

    This message is directly to you Elen,
    Unless they go out and see how the rest of world is living right now those sceptics who opposes and discouages you wouldn’t say or talk like stupid.
    I, myself as a diaspora in the U.S. always have a dream, one day I will go back to the country I love and help those who need help “make a difference” just like what you did. America is a great country and Ethiopia as well, we can prove that to the world by working hard,and always doing the right thing no matter what the situation we are in.
    God bless you and you family for doing this to Ethiopia,I have a whole lot of love and respect to you keep up the good work.

  • Dawit H

    First of all thank you wide angle for making this documentary.
    My wife and I found Ms Elleni and her team’s work most fascinating. We urge you to ignore the sceptics and the naysayers, and continue to be the salt that you ought to. Whilst we understand the significance of coffee for the country, we encourage you to not only focus on the cash crop. In your initial objective is where our heart is.
    But thank you for all that you continue to do, and God bless you and your team

  • henok

    Thanks Eleni. You are alright in my book. To the haterators, I would suggest you fix the problems in your own life first…cause otherwise you will continue to make such useless remarks subconsciously designed to blame your personal failures on people Eleni. Only those who succeed understand what it takes to succeed.

  • Fal

    Great story – congratulation to Ms Eleni and her team for their vision, hard work and perceverance. As far as I’m concerned, this project is already a success. You go sister- Thanks to Aaron and Wide Angle for the broadcast. The continent needs great stories like these to help reshape the image of Africa

  • woygud

    If ms Eleni really want to help Ethiopia,i will explain my disagreement and also real solution to stop the hunger and feed our self, price tagging agent or ECX will be like a broker(delala)but this delala is different than we usually deal,this delala(ECX)have the power to fix the price of commidity trading everyday,it only works for the most democratic industrial nations which the rulling class have no ownership of coroporations and they even can not buy a share after elected to be the rulling elite,but Ethiopia have a rulling class who control and own almost everthing including our freedom and way of life,if ECX have nothing to do with the elites business or if is real independent entity,Elenei will be in prison by now,in the name of ECX scam weyane will have the power to inflate and deflate the price of the dailly market value,weyane will inflate the price of everthing because it is more benfit for them and i don’t have to explain who weyane will deflate the poor farmer,this is scam in a bigger scale because the consumer(ethiopian people)will go poorer and it will bring more hunger and suffering because of the price hike and destroying traditional trading which excisted for centuries,and if Elenei really want to solve our problem she need to convince the unelected elites to use our own god giving resource to build major irrigation systems and build new settlement very close to our major rivers to attract people and create a society to populate the area and in long run hunger will be the thing of the past,Elenei i highly recomand you to go around the world and exposed that we can not use our own resource because of egypt and few powerfull nations who wish our disaster and our current unleacted leaders are dancing with our enemies this include their mentor dictater hosni mubark of egypt,whole bounch of sale outs or paracites,ms Elenei no offence i hope you will find this in a good spirit.

  • ephrem

    Nobody said the doctor is a bad person,but she is knowingly or unknownigly helping woyane prolong its life and reach its gole to leberate tigray and watch the rest of Ethiopia disintgrate,which makes ECX irelevant and the doctors effort counter prodactive.Since she is a smart women she will a willing partispant for the end result.

  • Keflu

    great infomercial. I wish pbs would have done its research proir to doing duped by meles cadres. Wish sucess to Eleni if she realy helps the farmeres by telling Meles to spend money in building small dams so we do not have to beg food year to year.

  • Adil

    Thank you Eleni Gebre Mehdin for comming back to your country and working hard to develop it. I loved this program. Ethiopia’s next priority should be fixing the energy crisis. Hopefully Ethiopia’s children will come home and fix this. btw my uncle’s song “Shebelew” bole2harlem is nice!

  • Thompson Owen

    The ECX was hastily forced upon the coffee trade, with disasterous consequences in just one season of operation. It is callous to say “we would rather have one short pain than a long, drawn-out agony” to paraphrase the prime minister. Whose pain? Certainly not the government or the ECX. Yes, it’s clear that by controlling the coffee trade, the government as better control of foreign currency, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. But why institute it in such a disruptive hasty way? Why shut down Dire Dawa auction with such drama? Why suspend exporter licenses? Why disrupt all the transparency and traceability of coffee from the producer to the ultimate buyer, and substitute this mediocre warehousing and grading system for coffee? The ECX did amazing harm to their coffee trade, and for 2010 crop, no meaningful changes have been yet adopted to allow for buyers to make direct purchases from regional private mills, and get exactly the coffee they want (and are willing to pay very good prices for!) ECX is a grain trading platform for simple fungible commodities – a commodity is exchangeable by grade, one lot for another. Coffee is largely NOT such a commodity, except when the buyer is Nestle, Folgers, Kraft etc (and pays the low prices they are willing to bear). The good buyers want to know EXACTLY where their coffee is from, to have pre-arranged for particular lots from particular mills. The ECX has largely made this impossible, and one more season without reforms will be a disaster. I support the reform, and support the idea of the ECX, but they need to act responsibly when toying with so many peoples lives!

    PS: I am very happy this piece was produced, to draw attention to this issue, but it is largely a very poor production, a puff piece without any critical content. Aaron Brown is a shlock journalist here, and without any voices of dissent, or any real meaningful argument about the implications of the ECX and it’s too-rapid transition, it’s just a glossy portrait of one person. Showing a few farmers and a walk through the Mercato is not a substitute.

  • Girum

    ECX is new and needs some fine-tuning. You can’t expect it to be perfect from day 1. All commondity exchanges went through some adjustments before becoming successful. I highly commend Ms. Elleni and her team for their hard work to launch ECX.

    For all the haters,
    There is an old saying…”WHAT WE FOCUS ON EXPANDS…” Let them feed on their own negativity and not GIVE THEM ANY ENERGY to keep them going…

  • Solomon Degefe

    Talk about making a difference, this is huge. God bless you Eleni and Team.

  • Tony

    If Eleni Gebre Mehdin had set up a free market or brought her poupularity to bear on a fight to establish a free market for the poor farmers I would respect her but as of now she is a puppet whose strings are being pulled by the elite in Ethiopia and as is usual in Africa the ppl who have the least, the poor farmers, they will be the loosers.

  • Rahel

    Dr. Eleni has done a remarkable job in bringing the new found exchange to Ethiopia. It is indeed a pride for us Ethiopians to see such a tough but yet compassionate woman strive to make change in the country. I see many of us judge her and ask questions about what happens behind the scenes…. well have you ever questioned how the exhange markets in different countries started off…. many still face challenges and this is a new technology and new innovation to the country that has to be accepted by the people and merged with the culture and hence will face the many challenges. Where I might agree with some critiques would be, don’t loose focus of your initial plan and change course and focus on the big ticket items.

    I still say Good job to Eleni and thank you PBS for showing this documentary. Many of us have forgotten where we came from, let this be a wake up moment to help our beautiful country.

  • Kiminad

    STOP the politics for a moment and try to see her real passion from her eyes. No matter how much you hate Meles and his government, you should not hate this GREAT story of Dr.Eleni.

  • Ephrem

    Eleni’s work is amazing. I am very inspired by her work. She is making such a great contribution for Ethiopia. As an Ethiopian and a young college student in US, I am inspired by her. Keep up the excellent work.

  • Aklilu

    I was very happy to se Eleni and her group gonig there and making the difference ,its easy to sit and criticize but for one on her level when she couldv’e lived any where she want and be successful and yet go back home ….and not just talk the talk but walk the walk …walk the talk is admirable ..I cant believe people say for money politics,and so on..thats what kept us behind the rest of the world one working and one sitting and bad mouthing .
    Eleni my respect for you and for your team,I am so proud some body care! people what we look like here posting infront of the whole world this kind of nonsense about some one who went home from merkato to dre…to gonder in rain sun heat to help change with what they have and what they know .

  • Jiffar

    This is another great documentary by PBS. Thank you. The exchange is a very interesting development indeed. It will be interesting to see its outcome. I wish it the best.

  • Manuel

    This is a very interesting report. Does anyone know where I can find a spanish version of the episode?

  • Angie Nydam

    Will this video be available again?

  • feltzr

    Due to international broadcasting agreements, the episode is only available in the United States.

  • shilan k.

    soooo inspiring this should be aired on pbs again.. shes witty and she has proven many western economists wrong i admire her confidence as a black woman she’s more than an example to many young girls who want to change the world and be at the forefront of REAL change

  • Molla

    What a contrast among the Ethiopian population. One Dr works hard to change the fate of Farmers by abandoning her comfortable Job and life in the west to work in the rural parts of Ethiopia and the other Dr. criticise the effort of the hard working Dr. from the comfort of the west without helping his country in any way he can.

    As long as we have the type of Drs who works hard for her country, Ethiopia will have hope despite the hard efforts of the other Dr to distract the Path of Ethiopia to development. But the contrast always amazes me.


    I would first like to say that elenas motivation and basic idea is great….in theory. However, if any of you commenting on this video have ever studied economic development you would know that an overarching paradigm within the development world, is the role INSTITUTIONS play in development and economic growth.

    Institutions include but are not limited to: enforcement of property rights for a broad cross section of society, so that a variety of individuals have incentives to invest and take part in economic life; constraints on the actions of elites, politicians, and other powerful groups, so that these people cannot expropriate the incomes and investments of others or create a highly uneven playing field; some degree of equal opportunity for broad segments of society, so that individuals can make investments, especially in human capital, and participate in productive economic activities, rule of law, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY/Transparency, and the list keep going and going and going. Now if you also did not happen to know there have been countless econometric analysis’ of correlation/regression that have found that the quality of institutions overrides everything else in dictating economic growth and that the quality of institutions (as measured by a composite indicator of a number of elements that capture the protection afforded to property rights as well as the strength of the rule of law, and government transparency) is the only positive and significant determinant of income levels.

    Furthermore, political democracy can be thought of as a metainstitution that helps societies make choices about the institutions they want, and as we all know the current political situation in Ethiopia is far from democratic. MAny of you say that politics need to be left out of this discussion, when in fact nothing will ever come from Eleni’s ECX, in terms of amerliorating social disparities and inequality, if the the institutional foundation seen in countries political structure is not changed. Economic Growth does not create good institutions, good institutions create economic growth. Politics can simply not be left out of the picture, ethiopia will have nothing while the autocratic regime continues its perverse practices of control and rent seeking. Do not be fooled as PBS was fooled into thinking this “free” market strategy will do anything positive for this country so long as it’s people are inhibited from having true freedom; the freedom to choose who leads their country, the freedom to choose what institutions are best and fair for their country, and the freedom to live the life they choose.

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