Yehdego Abeselom: Leaving Comfort to Provide Comfort


A journey of Film, Foam, and Fortitude...

Meet Yehdego Abeselom, CEO of Keste Damena Foam Industry, and founder of Kinetic Dawn Multimedia. Creative in life and business, the story of Yehdego is a fascinating tale of a man who is forging his path while also upholding his family’s legacy. Join us as we explore his life, different ventures, and the lessons he learned along the way.

Early Life

Yehdego left Ethiopia for education in 1998. His first destination was Boston. However, he says that the weather and experiences of racism made his life harder. As a result, he decided to move to California, where he enrolled in a Junior College. There, he found newfound freedom to explore his interests, eventually discovering his passion for film. After transferring to Chapman University and studying film, Yehdego honed his skills and gained valuable industry experience working for SONY Pictures. Fueled by his love for storytelling, he set out to produce his film, resulting in the creation of "የ13 ወር ፀጋ (13 Months of Sunshine)," which premiered in 2008. The following year, Yehdego made the momentous decision to return to Ethiopia.

Keste Damena

Yehdego's father, Abeselom Yehdego, founded Keste Damena in 1995 as a family-run business. Originally intended to support his furniture venture, the foam company soon became the focal point. Keste Damena started as a small business and was one of three foam producers in Ethiopia. Aiming to never compromise their client’s comfort for the sake of profit, Yehedego says that Keste Damena is the only company that sells foam without fillers. 

Currently, the company employs over 600 people. Apart from being one of the best foam producers in the country, Keste Damena has now expanded into the furniture business, fulfilling his father’s dream. Yehdego envisions Keste Damena “to be the IKEA of Africa.”

Kinetic Dawn Multimedia

Yehdego’s passion for creative marketing has led him to establish Kinetic Dawn Multimedia. “Creativity is always dynamic. If you’re stuck in anything, as long as you have creativity, change will come. It’s always Kinetic. When we say, Dawn…it’s always the darkest before sunrise. So, we need to be patient and work hard ” he says, explaining the reasoning behind the company’s name.

Kinetic Dawn provides a diverse range of services, including brand advertising, talent management, and a record label. Additionally, they produce original content that is broadcast via Dink TV. Rather than relying on traditional methods like satellite TV, Dink TV utilizes digital platforms to distribute its content. Yehdego believes that if they focus on creating good content, reaching their audience will be the easy part. 

Managing and Empowering Talent

Businesses in Ethiopia often struggle to find talented individuals who can contribute to the growth of the company. Yehdego understands the importance of having a reliable team to make running a business easier. Although he has a trustworthy partner in Metasebia Yoseph at Dink TV, Yehdego faces difficulties in managing talent. However, Yehdego is a strong believer in empowerment. He believes in equipping his employees with decision-making capabilities. This comes with its challenges. Sometimes, employees may be overwhelmed, or in some cases, they might grow overconfident. Despite these challenges, Yehdego still doesn’t believe in micromanaging. 

Running a Second Generation Business

Yehdego observes that many businesses in Ethiopia lack a succession plan. Many founders cling to their positions and fail to envision a future for their companies without their presence. As a result, second-generation leaders often struggle when they inherit the business, lacking the opportunity to learn the craft of running a business. Throughout his journey, he admits to making multiple mistakes. However, instead of dwelling on them, he focused on the valuable lessons they taught him. It's these accumulated lessons that have transformed him into a seasoned businessman. 

One of the other challenges he faces is living up to his father’s name and legacy. Although he believes there’s still more to accomplish, Yehdego believes that he has met and overcome these challenges. “My father’s shadow is big, but so is my dream,” he says.

Looking to the Future

Yehdego is filled with hope for the future of Keste Damena, and he envisions taking the company's success beyond Ethiopia to other African nations. He has big plans to expand its reach and make Keste Damena a household name across the continent. Through his multimedia ventures, Yehdego aims to share compelling Ethiopian stories with a global audience. He firmly believes in the transformative power of art, stating, "Art can bring change." Through the creative expression of art, Yehdego aims to shape a new and positive narrative about Ethiopia, showcasing its rich culture and heritage to the world.

If you believe in it, never back down.

“Don’t listen to the haters!” Yehdego says to new business owners. As a second-generation business owner who has a lot of creative ideas, Yehdego has dealt with his fair share of criticism and judgments. He acknowledges the paralyzing effect these things may have and advises entrepreneurs not to take it to heart. Instead, they should remain committed to their vision, work hard, and be led by kindness. That, Yehdego believes, is the recipe to success. 

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