When the pandemic broke out in Rwanda, many businesses closed their doors while others reduced their operations and laid off staff. Entrepreneurs were worried and uncertain of the future.
That’s why the African Management Institute and our partners stepped in to support entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they faced and guide them on the road to recovery. Through AMI’s covered programmes including Business Survival Bootcamp, Survive to Thrive, and Grow Your Business, entrepreneurs in Rwanda were given the opportunity to learn, network and utilise practical skills and tools to stay resilient.
As a result, graduates of AMI programmes have seen impressive growth in their businesses and made a remarkable impact on the community by creating new jobs and boosting productivity – all while expanding their teams and operations. To celebrate these achievements and the resilience of Rwandan entrepreneurs, the African Management Institute has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to launch the AMI Resilience Prize.
Launched in April 2022, the AMI Resilience Prize recognises the achievements and resilience of entrepreneurs who completed one of the programmes offered by African Management Institute in partnership with Mastercard Foundation.
Entrepreneurs from across the country who completed one of the AMI programmes were given the chance to apply for the AMI Resilience Prize to secure financial and professional support to help them reach greater heights in their businesses.
More than 600 graduates applied for the chance to win Rwf 1,000,000 and professional support to help their businesses keep growing. Fifteen (15) entrepreneurs, three (3) from each province and the City of Kigali, who have demonstrated impact on their businesses and the community, have been selected to move to the voting phase of the prize.
Entrepreneurs selected from Eastern Province shared how they leveraged the skills acquired from the AMI’s programmes to grow their businesses and became more resilient.
“Thanks to AMI’s Customer Needs Analysis tool, I was able to identify customer segments such as pains and gains and improved our products to meet our customers’ needs. This tool also helped us to meet our unique value proposition (products, gain creators, and pain relievers) which enhanced our customers’ understanding and engagement on our company’s products,” said Valens Ruhorimbere, Founder of Iwacu Bakery Solution Company Ltd.
“After completing AMI’s Business Survival Bootcamp programme, I managed to apply the skills acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic where I decided to shift to new products, and I started manufacturing Chia Seeds Threshing and Cleaning machines.This also enhanced my capacity to train and create new jobs for the youth,” said Juvenal Kabagambe, Founder of Urban and Rural Farming Development Company (U.R.F.D.C) Ltd.
“AMI’s business programmes (Business Survival Bootcamp and Take Your Business Online), helped me to build my confidence as I was able to pitch my project in a convincing manner. As a result, I was named the top entrepreneur in the Youth Connect Award 2021 at the provincial level in the Eastern Province,” said Diogene Gold Rwema, Founder of DIOSOL Ltd.
Meet and Network Events
As part of the AMI Resilience Prize campaign, the African Management Institute has organised Meet and Network events to connect entrepreneurs who have completed AMI programmes, link them to partners and district officials, and hear their inspiring testimonies.
During this campaign, the top three entrepreneurs selected from each category of the AMI Resilience Prize will be announced and participants will also be introduced to the AMI Rwanda Thrive Community, a network established to help entrepreneurs who graduated from AMI programmes access different opportunities and updates. Through this community, AMI alumni will receive financial support and advice information, network with each other and get linkages to small business service providers.
These events will take place in May in the four provinces of Rwanda and a final event will be in the City of Kigali at Norrsken Kigali House where the winners of the AMI Resilience Prize will be announced.
In the Northern Province, the AMI Resilience Prize outreach campaign was held in Musanze District on May 13 where the top 3 entrepreneurs from the Northern Province were announced.
During an exciting networking session, AMI graduates had the opportunity to strengthen business connections, learn new business ideas from their peers.
Jonathan Murwanashyaka of Gira Ikigega Ltd, a registered vegetable production and processing company based in Musanze, who is among the selected top 3 candidates, said that his company focuses on reducing post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables between harvest and consumption.
Similarly, Jean Nkundabera, the other candidate from the Northern Province said that his venture deals in mushroom seed tube manufacturing and mushroom growing for market orientation.
“I started in 2019, when I had little income. That Time I was working in Kamonyi District and the producing capacity was limited to 1500 seedtubes at maximum. In 2020 COVID-19 pandemic interfered with my business where many kilos of production in the garden perished due to lack of market since hotels and restaurants closed,”
“Inaccessibility of the potential market in the City of Kigali as public transport came to standstill due to the lockdown complicated the situation. My business survived the COVID-19 crisis and expanded to 2500seedtubes and I expanded my business where I work both in Kamonyi and Rulindo District,” Nkundabera said.
Jeanne D’ar Nyirampakaniye, the 3rd person to emerge from the Northern Province, said her tailoring and clothing business had just transformed into a commercial venture in 2020, when she joined forces with her colleagues but then the pandemic hit.
After the AMI training Nyirampakaniye and her friends came up with solutions to resuscitate their business, focusing on producing quality products with the small capital they had and today the business has picked up.
On Wednesday, the AMI team was in Huye district, where entrepreneurs from the Southern Province met and networked, sharing business ideas and contacts to improve collaboration, while three candidates out of the AMI alumni were selected to participate in the AMI Resilience Prize.
The trio are Joselyne Tuyishimire of House of Honey from Kamonyi, Thierry Rushema of Better Fashion and Design Ltd, from Huye and Jean de Dieu Gasana of Gisagara Youth Innovation Centre Ltd, from Gisagara district. They were previously trained on how to take their businesses online.
Speaking at the event, Andre Kamana, the Huye District Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development commended AMI and the entrepreneurs for working together to uplift each other in in difficult times, reiterating the commitment of the Government of Rwanda to support the private sector.
“The Government of Rwanda firmly believes that the private sector is a driver of sustainable economic growth and will continue to put in place the right incentives and environment for its growth,”
“I call upon all of you to use this opportunity not just to network but also work together for the growth and expansion of your businesses. As young people, you should put technology at the forefront of whatever you do,” Kamana said.
Speaking on behalf of AMI Rwanda, Allen Ingabire, the partnership and sourcing manager, reiterated AMI Rwanda’s efforts to enhances the skills of entrepreneurs and business leaders in Rwanda by providing them with the basic tools to help them grow and expand their businesses.
“Today we are proud to have reached out to entrepreneurs in the Southern Province as one of the richest areas for cultural tourism due to the historic buildings and unique historical sites,” Ingabire said, adding that AMI is working with other partners to set up a branch in Huye, with the aim of further streamlining training programs for entrepreneurs working in various fields including the tourism sector and hospitality in the Southern Province.
The AMI Resilience Prize will head to Western Province, in Karongi district, on Friday, May 20, while in the City of Kigali it will take place on May 26 at Norrsken Kigali House
The top 15 entrepreneurs selected to continue to the next phase of the AMI Resilience Prize are announced on each Meet & Network event and be published on AMI’s social media platforms and the website: www.africanmanagers.org/ami-resilience-prize/ where the public will have the chance to vote for their favourite entrepreneur for the “People’s Choice” category starting from 20th until 25th May 2022.