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May 29th, 2009
Trading Up: Bringing Ethiopia’s Economy Into The 21st Century
Lesson Overview

Funding for the educational materials was provided by The Overbrook Foundation.

For a printer-friendly version of this lesson, click here (PDF) (RTF)


TIME ALLOTMENT: One to two 45-minute class periods

In this lesson, students will learn about the efforts of Ethiopian reformers to create a modern agricultural commodities exchange in an economic environment historically dominated by inefficient tradition and government corruption.

New York State Standards

Standard 2: World History
Use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.
• Key Idea 1: The study of world history requires an understanding of world cultures and civilizations, including an analysis of important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions. This study also examines the human condition and the connections and interactions of people across time and space and the ways different people view the same event or issue from a variety of perspectives.
• Key Idea 2: Establishing timeframes, exploring different periodizations, examining themes across time and within cultures, and focusing on important turning points in world history help organize the study of world cultures and civilizations.
• Key Idea 3: Study of the major social, political, cultural, and religious developments in world history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.

Selected clips from The Market Maker, an episode of the PBS documentary series Wide Angle.

1. Why Trade Matters
An introduction to the challenges faced by the developing Ethiopian economy and the tragic consequences of its collapse in 1984.

2. The Moving Parts of a Market
A look at market reformers’ successful efforts to bring a modern commodity exchange to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, and the

3. The Coffee Crisis
In an effort to mitigate the impact of the 2008 global economic collapse, the Ethiopian government calls upon the fledgling Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) to start trading coffee—the nation’s primary cash crop—before it is prepared to do so.

4.Winning the Farmers’ Trust
With the coffee crisis under control, the ECX reformers return to their original mission of winning farmers’ trust and getting them to deposit their crops in the exchange’s warehouse.

5. Next Steps
While the ECX reformers celebrate the success of their new sesame market, they acknowledge the massive challenges they still face in bringing the ECX to millions of Ethiopia’s poor subsistence farmers.

Access the streaming video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Students will be able to:
• Describe the limitations of traditional “face-to-face” commerce and the transformative potential of open and reliable trading markets.
• Outline the key elements of a successful commodities exchange.
• Understand the underlying causes of the 1984 Ethiopian famine
• Describe the impact of the 2008 global economic crisis on the Ethiopian Commodity exchange.

Proceed to Lesson Activities.

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