For the first time ever, Rwanda participated in a significant global initiative known as Global Entrepreneurship Week, which ran from Nov. 14 to 18. The event featured a series of activities designed to support entrepreneurs. They took place throughout the country.
The Global Entrepreneurship Week website says it is meant to be the world’s largest event to recognize innovators and job creators who produce economic and social dividends.
During one week each November, the website says the event helps to inspire people around the globe through everything from big competitions to small networking gatherings. It seeks to link participants to potential future partners, mentors and investors.
It is in this vein that during this week in Rwanda various activities including competitions, mentoring workshops and presentations took place at campuses and schools to encourage entrepreneurship among youth, and especially aspiring entrepreneurs. It was supposed to help students generate new ideas, jobs and drive growth in Rwanda.
Rosine Ndayishimiye, a student at Lycee de Kigali, was among the guest speakers at the closing ceremony. She has started an entrepreneurship club at her school. “We started a Rwf 28,000 business by selling avocados to students after realizing that our colleagues did not have appetizers. Now we have shifted from avocados to bananas,” said Rosine.
Another guest speaker was Sandra Idossou, the publisher of Theservicemag, a magazine that educates Rwandans on customer service and business development (full disclosure: the author has previously done work for the magazine). “I became an entrepreneur by developing my talent,” said Sandra. “I loved writing stories. At the beginning I did everything related to The Servicemag. I was a photographer, writer, publisher, etc.,” Sandra added.
She also said that she is always trying new things and learning from mistakes, which is an example to follow for aspiring or established business people. “I just started with only my laptop,” she said.
The Servicemag was among the sponsors of Global Entrepreneurship Week Rwanda. “We decide to be part of GEW Rwanda because we think that any event that create jobs is good. By doing so we will develop not only Rwanda but also our continent,” said the Servicemag publisher.
Eric Kacou, a renowned lecturer and author of Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity was the keynote speaker on closing day. “Entrepreneurship is all about mindset change,” said Eric. He explained the knowledge contained in his book by engaging the audience. In his conclusion he said that one week is not enough to encourage entrepreneurship. “We should talk about it every day .”
Another student who shared her business experience is Germaine of the Kigali Health Institute. She said that she started in January with only Rwf 5,000 by making women’s hand bags. Now she employs five persons. “Try and fail; don’t fail to try,” is the saying that inspires her.
She further challenged the audience asking if there was someone who did not have Rwf 5,000 to raise their hand. Only few people raised their hands.
In his speech, Emanuel Hategeka, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industries, who was the guest of honour, said the week put Rwanda on the global scene and contributed to its Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy. “More enterprises is what is needed,” he added.
Last year, over 100 countries participated in the week, resulting in 35,000 different events reaching 7.5 million people.