The curious case of Tiliksew’s fortunes

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In less than a decade, she’s zipped from nobody to one of the richest persons in the country. She owns at least four expensive hotels, the famous one being an 18-storey Grand Resort located on the shores of Lake Tana, dubbed the tallest hotel in Ethiopia. She also owns other large hotels in Debre Markos, Awasa, and Gambela towns. She has gained a notoriety for her lavish and luxurious life, frequent travel to Dubai and Shanghai. She says she is a self-made billionaire, hailing from simple peasant family and was making her livelihoods as school teacher only twenty years ago. So how did she come to amass such a huge amount of money in a short time and manage to construct a hotel that costs 300 million birr on the shores of Lake Tana?
The source of Tiliksew Gedamu’s income has been something of a mystery. It might not be attributed to business acumen, financial probity or hard work. Many say Tiliksew’s wealth owes to her ties to some officials of the power. For others, the hotel in Bahir Dar, is not really owned by her but by other powerful politicians. Many of the hotel personnel talk about seeing Kassa Tekleberhan, minister of federal affairs, frequenting the hotel and discussing the hotel administration work with the management. Another official Addisu Legesse, former deputy prime minister often comes to address the hotel staff on ways of improving the service. If true, so why would the two bigwigs of the government be concerned about the performance of a private hotel?
One former staff of the hotel, who currently resides in Addis Ababa, claims the hotel was built through a web of transactions with its ownership being held in anonymous bearer shares. Asking for anonymity, the former staff says Tiliksew was not known as a businesswoman but the officials are using her because she was a childless woman and she would not pose any danger for the business. He said the hotel was once investigated by the region for money laundering, but the charge was suddenly dropped for reasons not well explained. Another source in the tax bureau of Bahir Dar says it is an open secret that the hotel paid little or no taxes on its purchases.
Whatever her role in the hotels, Tiliksew is a person of ill-repute and few in the business community of the country provoke such loathing. Many talk about her a notoriety to outmaneuver or intimidate rival businesses. One frequently mentioned case was her unlawful effort to take over the land which was on the premise of a nearby restaurant called Deset and integrate it to her hotel. Though her effort failed, after the owner brought the case to the media and administration, many other business have been easy targets. Tiliksew was sued for stiffing one of her personnel out of promised payments. A certain Tesfaye Bekele who helped her organize the hotel management of Grand Resorts hotel in Bahir Dar brought a suite at Bahir Dar Instant Court for 200,000 birr unpaid fees last year. Tesfaye who had wide experiences in hotel management, including working in Sheraton Addis for more ten years, won the case and he says he is still waiting for the money.
Not so much to indicate that Tiliksew is really an example of self-made woman but rather manifestation of a corrupt system that is enriching itself through so much of the wealth that had belonged to the state and to the people at large.

Arefayné Fantahun
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9 Discussion to this post

  1. Diana Mariam says:

    While initially reading the headline and the article I had wished and hoped the success was based on creative good, hoping that maybe sometimes good can make it in Ethiopia…However, once again disappointed. These people are like cancer they keep metathesizing and populating the nation. Had to find a woman with no children cold and calculated.
    Like · Reply · 15 hrs

  2. Alem says:

    Who else is “zipped from nobody to one of the richest persons in the country?” I think readers should send in names of such individuals and businesses they own. Also, I would suggest brief bios be included; who the heck is Kassa Tekleberhan?

  3. Irene Fertik says:

    How do I get a daily or weekly update of your articles. It is not apparent to me on The Ethiopian Observer’s page?? I do not do twitter…

  4. Work Kebede says:

    As a former reporter and editor, I wouldn’t publish this article. Not because the topic is bad. Actually the topic is very good but it is the reporting that is bad. The reporter is presenting this story based on hearsays which is not credible or acceptable. Apparently he did not try to interview the main subject of the story. He should have interviewed the lady and several other people who are very familiar with the person and who have facts at hand to back it up if challenged in court. This lady, about whom I know nothing, can sue the publication along with the reporter and editor for libel.

    • Admin says:

      True, I have not interviewed her. I am sure other journalists with more courage and means would carry on on it. I have interviewed two people mentioned in the article, one by the name and another anonymous. In a way, the article is not conclusive, just posing questions and probably giving hints. Even I could assure there is nothing here that is not true, the way I reported , “But for many” “For other” was an attempt on my part to distance myself from the story.

  5. That is right. There could be a good bit of truth in the report but is unbalanced and risky.

  6. Damot Exhibition Center says:

    One of the things you need to appreciate is it is an opportunity so long as the business is in our soil!!

  7. annonym says:

    you mentioned about the assets she owned. however, you failed to provide information about where the money comes from to build such four big hotels. you simply attached the source to few government officials. in my view this is an article written just to black mail her good will. other wise she is a very hard worker lady and a proud for the people of amhara.

  8. The Angry Ethiopian/ቆሽቱ የበገነው says:

    ይህቺ ሴትዮ በትግሬ ዘመን በድንገት ከተነሱት ከበርቴ ባልሃብቶች ምንድነው የሚለያት ? ከመሬት ተነስተው ሃብታም የሆኑ ብዙ ናቸው። በተቃራኒው ደግሞ ሃብት በስራ አካብተው፣ ወገንንም በስራ መስክ ጠቅመው እስር ቤት የተከተቱ አሉ። የአቶ አያሌው ተሰማ መጨረሻ ምን ሆኖ ይሆን ? የቁጩ ክስ ቀርቦባቸው ስድስት አመት ያህል አስረው ፈቱዋቸው። እኝህ አዛውንት እንግዲ በንጉሠነገስቱም፣ በነጓድ ሊቀመንበርም ጊዜ እንኳን ነጋዴ የነበሩ ሰው ነበሩ። በኋላ ቅይጥ ኢኮኖሚ ሲመጣና ለጥቆም መንግስት ተቀይሮ ክፍት ኢኮኖሚ ሲመጣ በፋና ወጊነት ጥሩ ስራ የሰሩ ያገር እንቁ ነበሩ። https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9I_XauYVcQ

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