Tebabu Assefa, Community Leader and Social Entrepreneur
Tebabu Assefa, a native of Ethiopia, has studied photography, film production and communication at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Professionally, Tebabu has an extensive experience working as a cultural promoter, communications and marketing consultant. As such, he has provided promotional and marketing support to community based enterprises and organizations engaged in social and economic development in the U.S. and Africa.
Since 2002, Tebabu’s work has been complimented by Sara Mussie (his wife & partner). Working jointly, they have co-foundered the Annual Ethiopian Festivals in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, and have organized the first three festivals, from 2011 to 2013. Each festival showcased a community cultural and craft market and an all day music & culture shows that attracted over 20,000 attendants.
Tebabu and Sara have gained recognition, received awards and Congressional citations for a pioneering social business and international trade they created and branded as Virtuous Exchange (VE) - better than Fair Trade, which is inspired by their conviction that the growing US-African Immigrant communities have massive untapped human and financial resources to positively impact social and economic development in Africa. To execute the VE model they founded and introduced Blessed Coffee (BC), that is based on a “farmer to your cup" direct market link and is geared towards development in coffee growing regions in Ethiopia as well as in communities in the US where the coffee is sold. As such, BC offers investment and profit sharing partnership to 323,000 coffee farmers in Ethiopia, (representing over 1.5 million families,) organized under a small coffee famers cooperative union.
Tebabu and Sara are also the Co-founders of the US-African Diaspora Business Council (USADBC), developed to inspire, inform, encourage and support US-African Immigrant entrepreneurs to follow suit and duplicate the VE model. To this end, they developed the Benefit Corporation for Africa Initiative (BCAI) and organized a Congressional Briefing in Corporation with Congressman Jamie Raskin to present BCAI to policymakers, the African Diplomatic community, International Development Organizations, African Immigrant & Diaspora community, and the Media.
Benefit Corporation is a new legislation authored by Congressman Raskin and first enacted by the Sate of Maryland, is a hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit models designed for community benefit as well as profit. BCAI aims to establish an infrastructure to support the growth of the Benefit Corporation movement in the United States linked to the business in Africa, ultimately aiming to facilitate trade opportunities amongst American Benefit Corporations and African enterprises to leverage the power of business to achieve social and economic development in Africa and the US.
Tebabu is a recipient of the 2012 “Champions of Change” award from the Obama administration and several Congressional Citations from members of the US Congress. Tebabu has served on the boards of several community organizations and advisory boards, including the Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's Commission on African Affairs, the Montgomery County Executive African Affairs Advisory Group, and the Takoma Foundations. Awards Tebabu received includes the 2008 Community Activist Award by the Takoma Foundation, the 2014 “Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award” from StartUpAfrica and the 2016 Bethesda Magazine’s Green Business Award. Tebabu makes his home in Takoma Park, MD with his wife and partner Sara, their son Yared, and daughter Helina.