May 20, 2024


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Open FIESTA alum Nael Hailemariam brings Shenzhen speed to Ethiopia

Nael Hailemariam from Open FIESTA, Tsinghua SIGS

“No matter where you are, the culture of Shenzhen is a part of you,” said entrepreneur Nael Hailemariam from Ethiopia who completed Open FIESTA’s Internet+Innovation Design program in 2021 at Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School (Tsinghua SIGS). Nael is the co-founder and CEO of Chapa Financial Technologies S.C. His experiences at SIGS and in Shenzhen have shaped his success as an entrepreneur.

In 2018, Nael entered Open FIESTA to study Internet+Innovation Design, which is a master’s program oriented to advanced interdisciplinary fields in information technology and innovative design. “Open FIESTA gave me freedom.” While at Open FIESTA, Nael took advantage of opportunities to combine his background in engineering with management and leadership.

In early 2020, the National Bank of Ethiopia issued a directive allowing non-banks to offer digital financial services. This was Nael’s chance to bring what he learned during his studies in China to a market he knew well, his home country of Ethiopia. This was also the beginning of Chapa. He devoted himself to bringing the advantages of an online payment infrastructure to Ethiopia.

Nael’s company Chapa successfully received a license from the National Bank of Ethiopia to work with private businesses in May of this year. “Shenzhen speed is also part of the value of our company,” said Nael. Moving forward, Nael and his team will continue drawing upon the Shenzhen culture of innovation and efficiency to expand their business into East Africa and eventually to the rest of the continent. His social commitment remains steadfast: he will continue to be an impact-maker and help improve the economy of his country.

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