A series of awareness creation workshops for CSOs and Woreda Administrations on the new Charities and Societies proclamation in three regional states, namely, Borena Zone of Oromia Regional State; Gambella People’s Regional State and; Benishangul Gumuz Regional State on December 15, 2010, January 11 and, January 12, 2011, respectively, were conducted.

Workshop participants were drawn from Zone, Woreda and Town Administrations, Bureaus of Labour and Social Affairs, Children and Women’s Affairs, Justice, Finance and Economic Development, Courts and various NGOs.

At the workshops, briefings were made to the participants on the issue of global and national perspective of the development of CSOs. Previous national governing laws and controlling agencies on issues concerning CSO were discussed. Discussions were also held on the pertinent features of the new charities and societies proclamation, especially on: the rationale behind, definitions, objectives, restrictions and classification of charities and societies, registration and license renewal, cost and funding, distinction between administrative and program costs, formation of consortiums, merger, division and conversion, compliant handling procedures, administrative measures, and penal sanctions. Afterwards, concerns on the overall impact of the proclamation on the existence and operation of CSOs were raised by the participants and discussed among the plenary.

The research was conducted in order to examine the engagement of the private sector in various socio-economic activities, and the level of cooperation and partnership initiatives between CSOs and the private sector. In light of the Charities and Societies Proclamation, the research was aimed at identifying challenges faced by CSOs, good practices related to the interaction between CSOs and the private sector, and forwarding possible means to form and strengthen their coordination in tackling socio-economic problems.

Questionnaires were designed to gather information about the private sectors’ involvement in various socio-economic activities, as part of their social responsibility or taken on one’s own initiative, the degree of their partnership with CSOs in carrying out these undertakings, the challenges they faced and the one’s they anticipate, their readiness and expectations to engage in such activities in the future. The information gathered through the questionnaires was further strengthened by interviews with business leaders. Sunshine Construction, Moha, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, BGI Ethiopia, Nib Bank, Dashen Bank and United Bank were included in the research from the private sector.

A separate questionnaire was also designed to assess the Civil Society Organizations’ (CSOs) initiatives, experiences, achievements, limitations and expectations on working in partnership with the private sector. Members of the CSO community, selected based on their size and sector of engagement, were asked to fill in the questionnaire. SNV, AED/HCP, Association of Ethiopian Micro Finance institutions (AEMFI), Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA), Tesfa Social and Development Association (TSDA), Forum for Social Studies (FSS), Action Professional Association for People (APAP), Network of Ethiopian Women’s Association (NEWA), Poverty Action Network of Civil Society Organizations in Ethiopia (PANE), and Plan International were among the respondents from the CSO community.

A validation workshop on the research on CSOs and the private sector in Ethiopia was conducted in Wabi Shebelle Hotel, Addis Ababa on November 7, 2012. A total number of 34 participants have attended the workshop representing CSOs, private enterprises, associations and government institutions. In the workshop participants drawn from chambers of commerce, producers and exporters association, Industry associations, federal ministries, private limited companies, Ethiopian Charity associations, resident associations, and share companies attended the workshop.

At the workshop, a presentation was made to the participants about the main features of the research paper as well as details on some selected issues. Afterwards, the participants have raised concerns about the research, mainly on the way forward. They had stressed on the need to establish a formal structure/link, such as a tripartite taskforce, between the private sector, government institutions and CSOs in order to create a facilitate the partnership.

With the view to promote partnership between CSOs and the private sector, a brochure and a poster were published and distributed among members of both sectors. The leaflet focuses on the analysis and findings of the research on the partnership between CSOs and the private sector in Ethiopia, whereas, the brochure is about promoting the legal mechanisms which create a win-win partnership phenomenon for both sectors. The brochure and the poster were distributed among private business enterprises and CSOs.