Many people associate Entrepreneurs with those who have worked for many years and are now deciding to start their own businesses.
Many people used to associate entrepreneurs with people who had many years of formal employment and decided to start their own businesses. But the tide is turning in Rwanda, with young people starting their own businesses and taking the lead in business.
They are often smart, intelligent, curious, and fearless. They are willing to take risks in order to make their business ideas a reality and turn them into viable, profitable businesses.
Rwanda’s youth population is a major contributor to the country’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Young people in their 20s and 30s who are part of the emerging business community seem to be averse to looking for employment. They prefer to create jobs and work as employers. They seize opportunities and continue to build on the progress and success the country has made over the past 22 years.
Youth are taking the initiative to invest their creative energy in diverse trades, including financial services, media, agriculture, and financial information technology.
Ephraim Rambomwenge is a notable young entrepreneur. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Rwa Business Group at 22. This conglomerate is based in Rwanda and specializes in commodity trading, ICT venture capitalism, and financial services.
Rwamwenge studied Chartered Management Accounting at University before he started his business at 17. Rwamwenge started his business with $1,000 borrowed from his parents and a friend.
He said, “I used the relationship that I had with the person to ask for the investment. Luckily they saw it as an opportunity to invest in a young man’s life.”
Rwamwenge, the sole owner of Rwa’s business group, owns most of its subsidiaries. He currently employs 32 workers, including pensionable and part-time workers. This depends on the project and workload.
Rwamwenge admitted that he made business decisions that were 60% backward because they weren’t well-informed and/or researched.
“I believe that the people I hire are the most important business decision in my business career. “The business is the people. Without that, it becomes difficult to achieve anything sustainable, even with all the money,” said the Chief of the Rwa business group. What was their inspiration?
Patrick Buchana is a young Rwandan man in his 20s who is now the Chief Executive Officer at AC Group. The firm provides a cashless payment system for public transport.
His company enables bus companies in Rwanda, which are cash-based, to switch to a cashless system that requires only a credit card to pay for their services. AC Group has signed several partnership agreements with leading brands around the globe and is active across Africa.
Buchana claims he was inspired to do so by Rwanda’s liberation history and to honor those who gave their lives to free and develop Rwanda. Buchana says that it is up to the youth to think outside of the box and continue to upgrade the country.
“Young people are more energetic and can take chances. They also have enough passion for being able to succeed in entrepreneurship.” The young Businessman stated that one must improve themselves and be determined for more than what is already in place.
Rwamwenge, on the other side, says that he was encouraged by a friend not to accept mediocrity or an average life early on. He was raised in a family that is an entrepreneur, which helped him be confident and ready to enter the competitive business world.
“I knew that I needed to do something for myself and make a positive difference in my community. My ideas were significant and could positively impact the lives of my passionate people. He said, “That drove me to push myself every day to be better.”
Buchana stresses that capital is the most important thing for potential entrepreneurs. Buchana explains that it is smarter to source capital after having done extensive research and a clear business plan.
Capital is essential, but it’s not all that matters in business. It is easier to get funds from investors or money lenders if you have your product ready, are prepared, and have thoroughly researched the market.
According to the AC Group CEO, “Many people don’t realize funding opportunities because of their failure to formulate their business plans. Investors are therefore reluctant to fund them because they aren’t sure of their viability.”
Rwamwenge admits it is hard to get capital for a business, but he advises youth to look in their networks to learn how to build and maintain business relationships.
He said, “One does not need large amounts of capital to get started. Instead, even the smallest amount can be used to grow and groom any business venture.”
Rwa Business Group Chairman also stressed that young entrepreneurs shouldn’t expect to depend on handouts. He warns that even though the Rwandan government has, in many ways, favored and protected young entrepreneurs, it is still important for them to show their worth to all business stakeholders.
Private investors and lending institutions are all part of the business community. These institutions don’t care about your age. In fact, if you are young, they will have more to show why they should trust you with money. Rwamwenge states that you must work hard and be smart to get a financial break. Challenges faced
Buchana states that he encountered many difficulties in the early stages of his business venture. However, these were overcome by a pilot study phase before the company was launched. It helped to identify potential business bottlenecks and dead-ends and dealt with them after the business was launched.
“The challenges are now less daunting and more manageable. We learned valuable lessons from the pilot study that we did about our target market and the business environment in general. While it’s true that entrepreneurs often learn the hard way, it’s important for the overall productivity of the business,” states AC Group CEO.
Rwamwenge agrees with these views and says that entrepreneur challenges are both internal and external.
“External challenges are caused by constantly changing trends, high levels of competition for customers, capital, and capable, affordable workers, among other things.”
“Internally, there are challenges that I face due to my inexperience with certain business matters. Every day I learn how to improve my business. Rwamwenge says, “I am constantly finding ways to improve my enterprise.”
What is it that makes a young entrepreneur stand out?
Buchana stresses that young entrepreneurs should have integrity and passion for their work.
Entrepreneurs must be honest because they have to make tough decisions about right and wrong. Passion and belief in their work are essential. He said that if they don’t believe in their ideas, their staff and investors will too.
Sunday Times reporter Rwamwenge said that he believes young entrepreneurs need to understand that not everything will go according to plan. Therefore, they should be patient and persistent.
Young entrepreneurs should be determined and persistent in their pursuit of success. They must also be able to accept corrections and not stay in their comfort zone. He said that being able to make intelligent business decisions is a key trait for entrepreneurs.
Rwamwenge said that education is essential for entrepreneurs, even though many may avoid it.
He said, “There is no formula for entrepreneurship. However, the school gives you some basic principles that are very useful in ensuring a profitable business.”
Buchana explained that their overall goal is to make public transport easy and enjoyable for all commuters. Buchana explains that all AC Group cardholders will be able to trust that the public transport system will get them to where they need to go in the time and manner they have planned.
“We want Kigali to be a smart city. We had the opportunity to address the difficult issue of fare collection. The AC Group Chief Executive Officer stated that there was a lot more money than was actually available and is working to recover it.
Buchana shared, “We are going on to build upon that and expand beyond Rwanda. We already have countries who have called us, so by the end of the year, our company will see additional expansion and growth.”
Rwamwenge believes that professional and personal goals should be large enough to reach.
“First, I want people to be transported by waves. That way, we might not need planes. Second, I want every person to use high-tech and electronic gadgets to improve their lives and ease their daily tasks. Third, I would like to have over a million Africans working in my business.
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