Meet Tebibu Solomon – Co-op Alternative’s new Intern from University College Cork


I’m from Ethiopia. In 2016, I earned a BSc in Information Science from the University of Gondar. I worked for nearly five years in Ethiopia in an Investment and Trade Analyst role and developed basic business analysis and consultancy skills. During my professional career, I had been promoting investment opportunities to potential foreign investors and provided aftercare service throughout their investment journey in Ethiopia. In August 2021, I moved to Ireland to pursue advanced education and now, I am attending MSc in Co-operatives, Agri-Food, and Sustainable Development at University College Cork.

The agribusiness space and business models around it have always been close to my heart. Ireland’s success stories in effectively implementing the cooperative business model were one of the key reasons to joining this master’s program. My study has been eye opening and enlightening to the cooperative business model. As I came from a country where there is very little or no experience in the co-operative space, being able to witness the impacts of the co-operative business model among producing farmers and consumers was pleasing. Throughout my study, I have been introduced to overwhelming and incredible stories whereby people are at the center of a business, not profit. Despite having an agrarian-led economy, the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia didn’t advance. As a result, the production capacity of these farmers is dropping year by year despite the desperate demand for more production. Hence, countries with rich experience in the cooperative model would be benchmarking to showcase the need to scale up the cooperative movement across the globe.

I have now joined Co-operative Alternative, a leading co-operative development body based in Belfast, on an internship as part of my master’s study. This is a massive and very significant step in my career development as the role gives me the exposure to learn from the unique expertise of Co-operative Alternatives on development and assistance to emerging co-operatives in vast business areas. I’m posted with the responsibility of researching the early-stage lifecycle of co-ops ranging from worker to community-based ones to uncover tailored support to their challenges and appropriate governance structure. The internship role will give me hands-on experience in the development and successful execution of a cooperative business targeted towards bringing about a change in people’s life and community. I am very much delighted with the opportunity to contribute to the effort in building a stronger cooperative movement that would benefit people all around the world.