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A VC Goes to Rwanda

Posted : admin 14 September 2012
Earlier this year, the Regent Center for Entrepreneurship  matched Patrice, a graduate of the BDC, with Richard Miller, a volunteer consultant from the US. Richard coached and mentored Patrice and they developed a close bond. Patrice invited Richard to serve on the board of directors for his organization and then invited him to visit Rwanda in person. Richard went to Rwanda in August 2012 to visit the schools Patrice is working in and to provide a 1 week training to his constituents. This report is from Richard about his experiences with Patrice.

Where: Republic of Rwanda in south central Africa

When: Departed Oregon August 10, 2012 on Delta/KLM airlines, arrived Kigali, Rwanda, August 11, 2012 via Amsterdam; Departed Kigali August 27, 2012, arrived Oregon August 28, 2012

Purpose: Regent University Center for Entrepreneurship (RCE) in Virginia

Beach, VA, in coordination with the International Christian Chamber of Commerce has developed a Business Development Center (BDC) in Kigali, Rwanda, for the purpose of providing entrepreneurship training and mentoring for Rwandans who are aspiring to start and operate their own businesses. Among other things, the BDC conducts a 14-w

eek training program. This training is augmented by volunteer mentors from the business world who are assigned to one of the graduates to provide advice and counsel to the entrepreneur.

As a volunteer mentor, I was assigned to Patrice Habinshuti who graduated form the first BDC cohort. His project involves extending the Africa Incentive Prize (AIP), aimed at college students who compete for prizes for having the best business ideas, to the Rwanda high school. Patrice and his team of four have started Entrepreneur Clubs in 15 high schools. This program is called AIP-High School Initiative (AIP-HSI).

My trip to Rwanda was to visit the high schools to learn what the program is all about in order to perhaps offer more useful mentoring to Patrice and his team. Further, at the request of Patrice, I agreed to prepare 20 hours of instruction on the theory and operational aspects of self-efficacy and the practical applications of this information. The training focused on tools to enhance the entrepreneur’s belief in his or her ability to conceive of an idea, organize the resources to support the idea and then manage the project to a productive result.

High School Visits:

  1. Groupe Scolaire Rilima in Bugesers District, Eastern Province, 600 students, 125 in the Entrepreneur Club, projects with chickens, selling fish, raising pigs and rabbits, baking cakes.
  2. Groupe Scolaire Rambura Boys in Nyabihu District, Western Province; Headmaster- RUKIRANDE Joseph; Teacher and Club Mentor-UWIZEYIMANA Fidele; 600 boys, 200 girls; projects include pigs, hens, cows
  3. Musanze School of Sciences in Musanze District, Northern Province; Headmaster- Father Jean Claude; Teacher and Club Mentor-Democracy (This is his name) 700 students, 45 in the Club; Projects include Plants for medicine, cows, pigs
  4. Groupe Scolaire Frank Adamson Kibogora in Nyamasheke District, Western Province; Discipline Master-VWIHOREYE Boaz; Teacher and Club Mentor-UZAMUKUNDA Bellancille; Projects include processing Tilapia fish from the lake, Ethanol from pineapple, wholesaling timber, Chemical medications from flowers
  5. Groupe Scolaire APAPEC Murambi in Rulindo District, Northern Province; Headmaster- NTEGEREJIMANA Innocent (email: innontege@yahoo.fr); Teacher and Club Mentor- RUKUNJO Paterne; 450 students, 160 in Club; Projects include Rabbits, Goats, pigs, hens, beans, sorghums
  6. ESPANYA Secondary School in Nyanza District, Southern Province; 1200 students (1000 board), 300 members in Club; Headmaster- MUDAHINYUKA Narcisse; Teacher and Mentor- HITIMANA Andrew; Projects include Consulting firm, vegetables, hens, selling clothes, boutique in the village.
  7. Kagarama Secondary School in Kicukiro District, Kigali City; Director of Studies- Thesphile; 800 students board; 248 Club members; Projects include Hair Dresser, raising hens and sell eggs to the school.
  8. All of the teachers and club leadership expressed a need for books about business, a computer for research and a source of capital for students to use to put their ideas to work. The team and I set an immediate goal of $10,000 USD as a starting point.

Conduct of the Training:

  1. The training was conducted 8-12 AM Monday-Friday of the second week of the visit. The primary focus of this training was helping the students determine “Who I AM” in order to correctly identify “What I Do.”
  2. The first two sessions: Overview presentation of Self-Efficacy theory using Albert Bandura’s book, “Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control.” This overview was requested by Patrice, the team leader.
  3. The following three days training was devoted to presenting the Tools for Transformation seminar I developed as an extension of doctoral research at Regent University. This seminar is based upon the results of research that concludes that personal change and growth requires an external change agent. The change agents for this seminar are carefully selected Scriptures as being the most powerful change agents as described by Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”A beta test of the seminar resulted in significant personal growth of the participants but more dramatic was the internal increase of congruity among all the Christian character traits measured after the training in contrast to the weak congruity at the beginning of the test. This change is attributed to the power of God’s Word the participants assimilated during the six-month period of the beta test. The power of the living Words penetrated barriers and eliminated walls of separation between the various character traits thus establishing character balance.
  4. Because of limits of time and access to the Internet, before and after surveys of the eight character traits were not taken. Verbal response at the end of the training indicated a significant increase in understanding of the composition and operation of their personal self and the way they believed about their ability to convert an idea into a productive result.
  5. To validate their ability to generate income from an idea using limited resources, each participant was given a grant of 1000 Rwanda francs on Wednesday with a challenge to bring to class on Friday the results of their entrepreneurship. The results were astounding for high school age participants. More than 90 percent of them generated a positive cash flow and the lowest return on their effort was 14 percent. Most realized a gain near 100 percent and one participant produced a profit in excess of 150 percent. Even more obvious than the profit they made was the excitement with which they reported their success.
  6. Dr. John Mulford, RCE founder, and Dona, the RCE local coordinator visited the class and shared their thoughts about the various aspects of entrepreneurship and cited success stories from graduates of the BDC training. The participants eagerly received their comments.
  7. Ola and Bittan Ekman from Sweden visited our class on Thursday and shared their life experiences to the joy of the participants. These very successful world-class entrepreneurs contributed a rich flavor to the training and presented success stories as aspiration generators for the participants.

Results of the Visit

  1. My goals for this visit were exceeded. I not only have a much better understanding of the work of the team to which I am a mentor, I have a great appreciation of the people of Rwanda and their positive relationship among themselves and the phenomenal obstacles they are overcoming to build a cohesive culture and a prosperous free enterprise system.
  2. During the visits to the high schools I was received with the highest merit of congeniality and appreciation. I was afforded the great opportunity to exchange ideas with the school faculty, administration and students and to gain an understanding of their motivation and challenges.
  3. The training was an exciting experience that culminated with graduation ceremonies and presentation to all participants who attend four or more sessions with a personalized Certificate of Participation and a Tee shirt emblazoned on the front with the AIP-HSI logo and on the back with the Rwanda national seal and our motto of the week, “Rwanda Raising-Together We Can.” The joy in the faces of the graduates was more than generous repayment for the hard work of preparations for the training.
  4. Patrice, Bernard, Anaclet and Louise are doing an admirable of initiating and coordinating the activities of 15 widely dispersed Entrepreneurship Clubs with very limited resources but with an enormous amount of determination and enthusiasm.

Input from the AIP-HSI Team:

 General comments:

 “We are very thankful to Dr. Richard L. MILLER because of his enthusiasm and devotion for the success of this project in general. He has been mentoring the team online for the past 5 months, providing advice which lead us to our past success stories.  Beyond this, he left his family, and spent two weeks with us in Rwanda working on with us this project.  Richard is very amazing and courageous. He has not been tired when we were traveling long distances visiting different schools across Rwanda. In all his school visits, he met the schools’ faculty and students, heard about their ideas, advised and supported them as he could. He also shared his wisdom with the 25 young people during a 1-week rich training on self-efficacy, and tools for transformation. He really helped a lot not only for the AIP-HSI team but also for the whole Rwandan community.”

“Simply, Richard’s visit has been amazingly resourceful which makes it unforgettable in our memories!”

Specific Comments:

- Visiting schools had been added value to our work, and we really expect for good fruits from specific advice he offered to each high school entrepreneur.

-  On every trip, even during the training, Richard encouraged this us in these words: “The big nations were build on ideas; I commend you for what you are doing”. This encouragement now guides us and we now know that what we do is valuable.

- The training has been a life-changing one because of its uniqueness of combining business with Christian values. We extremely liked this.

- Richard has been social not only with the team, but also with everyone he met. He has shown much love for the people of Rwanda (in all the categories). Especially for the team, he was has been part of our family and finally turned into a true father for this project.

- Richard has made this trip a success more than we thought before his arrival in Rwanda. Richard not only took care of all the financial needs during the visit, but also thought about the project’s future. We thank him for his giving hand. The donations he made during the visit include a good computer (laptop) and printer for the project’s office, a BDC training scholarship for one of the trainees, and a part of funding for student projects at Groupe Scolaire APAPEC Murambi (Goat project by the Entrepreneurship Club) and at Kagarama Secondary School (Winners Magazine project by Dennis Agaba). Many thanks from the entire AIP-HIS team for this.

“Richard, AIP-HSI is blessed to have you now as a key stone in this project.  RWANDA RISING, TOGETHER WE CAN.”

Conclusions

For this volunteer mentor, these 16 days resulted in an unforgettable experience, a once-in-a-lifetime venture into the culture and lives of a gracious and ambitious people. The reward for me was a comment from one of the participants: “I have never heard of mixing the Bible and business. Thank you for coming and teaching us how to do it.”


 
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