Rwanda’s Third Annual Global Entrepreneurship Week Campaign is a Continued Success

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PSF Secretariat, Kigali, Rwanda – (February 21, 2014) – This past November marked Rwanda’s third year as a host country for Global Entrepreneurship Weekwith the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center (BREC) acting as National Hosts of this important event. In 2012 GEW/Rwanda was the top East African campaign both in terms of number of partners and number of events. This year’s campaign brought together 50 partner organizations to host 50 events, attracting over 7,500 participants across Rwanda between November 17th and 24th. The focus of the campaign was to build a stronger Rwanda by turning job seekers into job creators. This goal was achieved by bringing together entrepreneurship-support organizations and entrepreneurs in all stages of business to facilitate the development of Rwanda’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Global Entrepreneurship Week-Rwanda is about building a network of innovators, thought leaders and organizations dedicated to advancing entrepreneurial growth—unleashing ideas that generate wealth and expand human welfare. The goal of GEW/Rwanda is to work towards achieving Rwanda’s EDPRS 2 goals to build the appropriate skills and competencies that will allow Rwandans, particularly youth, to become more productive and competitive members of society.

The week kicked off and concluded with two strong ceremonies co-organized by BREC and the Private Sector Federation. These ceremonies marked the opening and closing of a week-long celebration of entrepreneurship with international and local speakers. The 2013 GEW/Rwanda activities showcased a wide range of events that targeted multiple audience types, with a focus on youth and early-stage entrepreneurs.

There were countless youth oriented events conducted by organizations such as Rwanda’s Business Development Center, School Entrepreneurship Network, Emerging Leaders and Entrepreneurs, Digital Opportunity Trust Rwanda, The Office, and others. These organizations held trainings and provided opportunities for students to engage with established entrepreneurs, ask questions and hear about their experiences. These events extended beyond Kigali into the Southern, Eastern, and Western Provinces with African Innovation Prize, Rwanda Development Board, EDC AkaziKanoze, and the U.S. Embassy bringing their trainings directly to their target audiences.

Other events during the week had an exclusive focus on enabling women entrepreneurs. The Center for Business Solutions conducted an SME Toolkit workshop for women that brought together managers of cooperatives to discuss effective leadership and managerial skills to use in their cooperatives. The U.S. Embassy partnered with the Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs for a training of trainers workshop, focusing on setting expectations for young entrepreneurs, building the foundation of a good entrepreneurial mindset and working on initial business plans for entrepreneurs. Illume leveraged their creative expertise and interviewed a collection of strong female entrepreneurs and turned these interviews into a short-film which premiered during The Office’s Movie Night event.

Each partner organization chose the direction of their event and who the target audience was. Some additional event highlights include the Rwanda Development Board’s entrepreneurship awareness march that reached thousands of students from TVET institutions. RDB showcased experienced entrepreneurs that shared their experiences with the students, and also had consultants illustrate how to help move the entrepreneurship agenda forward in Rwanda.

Educat’s REAL Business Accelerator was a week-long training accelerator that culminated in a pitch competition to find Rwanda’s next entrepreneurial superstar. They partnered with leading institutions such as Inkomoko and Grow Movement to ensure the entrepreneurs had access to the necessary tools to bring their business concepts to the next level.

Over 400 people attended BiD Network’s Growing SMEs conference including high growth entrepreneurs and experts in the topics of developing, growing and financing SMEs. They launched Get in the Ring, a GEW global competition, which resulted in eight Rwandan entrepreneurs financed by six Rwandan and one Dutch financier. Additionally, their international investor matchmaking resulted in 50 entrepreneurs meeting with international investors in person or through skype.

These events are merely a snapshot of the energy around entrepreneurship that was demonstrated throughout the week. During this one week in November, we highlighted the numerous resources Rwanda’s organizations offer to enable young entrepreneurs and strengthen their community engagement to continue to develop home grown solutions. Rwanda is moving into a new era that is led by private sector entrepreneurs creating economic and social value across the country.

Contact: Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center