ConDigital: On the ground experience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Abel Gebreananya


In our “on the ground” series, our analyst’s connect with our community of founders across Africa and ask them to share their experience of building a business. In our first post we head to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and meet the team at ConDigital.

ConDigital provides cloud project management and enterprise resource planning tools for construction companies in Africa. We spoke to Abel Gebreananya, co-founder and CEO, to learn more about their journey so far. The team joined The Baobab Network accelerator in December 2019.

Building ConDigital

Construction is big business in Africa, and is responsible for delivering the numerous and ambitious infrastructure projects across the continent. But as Abel Gebreananya, co-founder and CEO of ConDigital, explains, the construction industry isn’t always efficient.

Abel partnered with his classmates Amon Isayas and Ayoel Afework after meeting at University. The team graduated from Addis Ababa University in Computer Science, but it was their family connections to the construction industry, that helped to unite them around a common goal. “Even though construction is one of the largest industries in Africa, it is still reliant on paper and pen-based project management” says Abel “this contributes to inefficiency and worse can lead to more corrupt practices.”

ConDigital Abel Gebreananya Eyoel Afewok Amon Isayas

Left to Right: Abel Gebreananya (CEO), Eyoel Afewok (COO), Amon Isayas (CTO)


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Building the right foundation

Helping to steer an industry away from tried and tested practices like pen and paper is not easy, but as Abel explains “what we are trying to provide with ConDigital is a digitally integrated environment built for construction projects.”

By focussing on the key issues facing project managers on the job, the team were able to prioritise tools across various stages of the project lifecycle such as planning, reporting, progress tracking, finances, shared resources and communications channels.


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Anticipation and Preparation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic effectively closed the construction industry for a considerable amount of time which could have been devasting for the team. However, they used this time to focus. “We had raised a pre-seed funding round at a time when the pandemic was spreading throughout the globe. As a team, we anticipated that this could be bad news and were very careful with our spending and adopted a very lean mindset” explains Abel.

As the crisis hit Ethiopia and the country went into lockdown, the team were faced with a new challenge. “Since our business is focussed on B2B, the lockdown meant our sales team could not be deployed or talk to companies about our offering. We used the early stages of the pandemic to focus on our design thinking and building new features ahead of time” he says, “as the lockdown measures began to be eased were able to return to business as usual quicker than expected with a broader product offering.”

ConDigital Office Ethiopia

Source: ConDigital

Getting an early Win

Despite taking time to prepare for the disruption caused by the pandemic the team recognise the need for a balance between action and preparation, as Abel explains “my advice to my pre-raise self is to focus on what needs to be done at the time instead of worrying about the expense, since the cost of delay is far greater.” He goes on to clarify “in the past we might have been hesitant to hire because we were fearful of covering the expense, but if the product isn’t ready when an opportunity comes up, then this is ultimately a much worse situation.”

The ConDigital team explained “We managed to make sales to two clients early on which generated a small amount of cash, which was enough to put us on the right track and validate that we were onto something.” This early traction was vital with some customers seeing enough value to pay for the beta version of the product, and provide feedback to shape the next stages of development.

Sales Cures All

This early success was vital in helping the team raise additional funding, Abel says “if your product is superb and you have traction from customers, you will get that funding to help you grow. So, focus more on that and the money will follow” even quoting successful tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s mantra “Sales Cures All!” as one of their guiding principles.

But pitching to investors has been another learning process in itself, as Abel recalls “the most common assumption (and wrong assumption) I made was that if the opportunity is that fundraising will be easy. All I thought I needed was an idea and a good pitch.” Focusing on the holistic business including the financials, the team, the market and the product itself took time to finesse, “In fact, it takes time and more effort in regards to proving your business in our discussions with potential investors, as they are looking into aspects, that as start-up founders, we might not be prepared [for].”

Final thought

We asked Abel if there was one take away in the fundraising journey, what would it be “It takes more time and effort than you think. So be prepared for delays or things not going to your plan and don’t forget your product and traction have more value than your pitch statement.”


The Baobab Network Accelerator Applications Banner


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ConDigital: On the ground experience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Abel Gebreananya


In our “on the ground” series, our analyst’s connect with our community of founders across Africa and ask them to share their experience of building a business. In our first post we head to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and meet the team at ConDigital.

ConDigital provides cloud project management and enterprise resource planning tools for construction companies in Africa. We spoke to Abel Gebreananya, co-founder and CEO, to learn more about their journey so far. The team joined The Baobab Network accelerator in December 2019.

Building ConDigital

Construction is big business in Africa, and is responsible for delivering the numerous and ambitious infrastructure projects across the continent. But as Abel Gebreananya, co-founder and CEO of ConDigital, explains, the construction industry isn’t always efficient.

Abel partnered with his classmates Amon Isayas and Ayoel Afework after meeting at University. The team graduated from Addis Ababa University in Computer Science, but it was their family connections to the construction industry, that helped to unite them around a common goal. “Even though construction is one of the largest industries in Africa, it is still reliant on paper and pen-based project management” says Abel “this contributes to inefficiency and worse can lead to more corrupt practices.”

ConDigital Abel Gebreananya Eyoel Afewok Amon Isayas

Left to Right: Abel Gebreananya (CEO), Eyoel Afewok (COO), Amon Isayas (CTO)


Want market insights delivered direct to your inbox?

Sign-up to our free weekly email:


Building the right foundation

Helping to steer an industry away from tried and tested practices like pen and paper is not easy, but as Abel explains “what we are trying to provide with ConDigital is a digitally integrated environment built for construction projects.”

By focussing on the key issues facing project managers on the job, the team were able to prioritise tools across various stages of the project lifecycle such as planning, reporting, progress tracking, finances, shared resources and communications channels.


The Baobab Network Accelerator Application Banner


Anticipation and Preparation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic effectively closed the construction industry for a considerable amount of time which could have been devasting for the team. However, they used this time to focus. “We had raised a pre-seed funding round at a time when the pandemic was spreading throughout the globe. As a team, we anticipated that this could be bad news and were very careful with our spending and adopted a very lean mindset” explains Abel.

As the crisis hit Ethiopia and the country went into lockdown, the team were faced with a new challenge. “Since our business is focussed on B2B, the lockdown meant our sales team could not be deployed or talk to companies about our offering. We used the early stages of the pandemic to focus on our design thinking and building new features ahead of time” he says, “as the lockdown measures began to be eased were able to return to business as usual quicker than expected with a broader product offering.”

ConDigital Office Ethiopia

Source: ConDigital

Getting an early Win

Despite taking time to prepare for the disruption caused by the pandemic the team recognise the need for a balance between action and preparation, as Abel explains “my advice to my pre-raise self is to focus on what needs to be done at the time instead of worrying about the expense, since the cost of delay is far greater.” He goes on to clarify “in the past we might have been hesitant to hire because we were fearful of covering the expense, but if the product isn’t ready when an opportunity comes up, then this is ultimately a much worse situation.”

The ConDigital team explained “We managed to make sales to two clients early on which generated a small amount of cash, which was enough to put us on the right track and validate that we were onto something.” This early traction was vital with some customers seeing enough value to pay for the beta version of the product, and provide feedback to shape the next stages of development.

Sales Cures All

This early success was vital in helping the team raise additional funding, Abel says “if your product is superb and you have traction from customers, you will get that funding to help you grow. So, focus more on that and the money will follow” even quoting successful tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s mantra “Sales Cures All!” as one of their guiding principles.

But pitching to investors has been another learning process in itself, as Abel recalls “the most common assumption (and wrong assumption) I made was that if the opportunity is that fundraising will be easy. All I thought I needed was an idea and a good pitch.” Focusing on the holistic business including the financials, the team, the market and the product itself took time to finesse, “In fact, it takes time and more effort in regards to proving your business in our discussions with potential investors, as they are looking into aspects, that as start-up founders, we might not be prepared [for].”

Final thought

We asked Abel if there was one take away in the fundraising journey, what would it be “It takes more time and effort than you think. So be prepared for delays or things not going to your plan and don’t forget your product and traction have more value than your pitch statement.”


The Baobab Network Accelerator Applications Banner


Articles you might also like: