GEW Rwanda: An Entrepreneurial Movement For An Entrepreneurial Nation
Mark Marich (GEW global)
Feb 22, 2012
Eighteen years after civil war ravaged this small, landlocked country in East Africa, Rwanda is rebuilding its society and economy based upon the principles of entrepreneurship: innovation, teamwork, persistence. Tremendous strides have been made in improving basic human welfare; in the past five years alone, more than 1 million people have been lifted out of poverty – equal to nearly 12% of the country’s population. At the core of this progress is the government’s ambitious development strategy, Rwanda Vision 2020, which states:
“Productive entrepreneurship must be fostered to perform its traditional role of creating wealth, employment and vital innovations through opportunities for profit.”
With such bold leadership and a collective drive toward a more entrepreneurial society, it is no surprise that GEW Rwanda was such a success in its first year.
Through the national host organization, the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center (BREC), 22 local partners were mobilized to engage citizens in all five provinces of the country. More than 5000 people participated in 26 different activities which truly lived up to the objectives of the week.
The year’s flagship event was a seven-stop entrepreneurship awareness campaign hosted by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Government of Rwanda’s one-stop-shop for all business development initiatives. For a full week, representatives from RDB, the BRD Development Fund, and local authorities visited various universities to introduce young people to the benefits of entrepreneurialism and to connect them to people and organizations that can help turn their ideas into reality.
Another exciting activity was GEW @ Lycee de Kigali, a five-day workshop for secondary school students organized entirely by the entrepreneurship club at the school. Each day, local entrepreneurs visited the students to share their success stories and to offer advice as these aspiring entrepreneurs set out to create livelihoods for themselves and for their families.
It is also with great pride that we congratulate Sharon Munyazikwiye and Jean Claude Ndayambaje of Rwanda, two of three first place winners of the DOT Innovation Fest, a global competition which challenged youth to think creatively about solving the social, economic, and educational problems in their communities.
GEW Rwanda activities were featured on all major media outlets in the country, including multiple appearances in the national newspaper, The New Times, and the national television station, TV Rwanda. Partners and sponsors contributed more than $20,000 in cash and in-kind donations, allowing for a special closing ceremony and unparalleled multimedia coverage throughout the week. Pictures from the impressive inaugural campaign can be viewed on the GEW Rwanda Flickr Photostream.
The success of GEW Rwanda can be attributed to the vision and dedication of the event planners and participants, who created a movement all their own and made GEW Rwanda one of the biggest campaigns on the continent. In the coming year, we hope to assemble a larger national team, mobilize more financial support, and at least double the impacts of our first year. Anyone who is interested in joining this movement is encouraged to contact the national hosts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benjamin D. Cox with Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center submitted this article.