Exploring Rwandan Entrepreneurship with TechnoServe
March 29, 2017
One of the best parts of being a student at ASYV is the opportunity to apply skills and information you learn in the classroom to the real world. ASYV’s Entrepreneurship program is one of the strongest examples of this.
This week, the Senior 6 (equivalent to high school seniors) students got the chance to go on an Entrepreneurship Field Trip with TechnoServe, our partner that created and helped facilitate ASYV’s Entrepreneurship program. This was a special occasion for the kids, not just because it was a chance to leave the Village, but also because it was an opportunity to see how to turn your business ideas into a reality.
While ASYV is very proud of students that go to foreign or local universities, the Village also encourages students to consider creating a business as an alternative option after graduation.
The field trip took place in Kayonza District, about an hour-long bus ride from the Village. It consisted of 5 site visits where students got to meet and learn from local entrepreneurs. One of the amazing benefits to being an entrepreneur in Rwanda is how low cost it is. While Western entrepreneurial endeavors tend to be higher-tech and high cost with investors supporting initial financing, the Rwandan entrepreneurship scene offers opportunities for low-tech low-cost businesses. For instance, having a small agribusiness is a great option for many.
The group met a woman who sold avocado juice – a rare find in Rwanda. Another man, who had come from Class 1 (the poorest of the poor) rents land to grow passion fruit to sell. He said: “while my father is okay with being extremely poor, I want to do better for myself because I know I am capable of that.”
One of the most interesting sites was a young man who had about 80 employees chopping rocks using a larger rock to crush the smaller ones. These rocks are combined with cement to make walls for houses. While employees make 150 Rwandan Francs per bucket (about an hour work for 18 US cents), this is the only job for some of the poorest people in Rwanda. Kids were scattered around the work site sitting alongside their parents as they worked. Being able to bring their kids to work is a benefit of the job, but it is also a very dangerous place as rocks are flying.
Having the chance to see entrepreneurs working, and more importantly, thriving in the field, brings a new understanding to what owning a business means to our students. While learning from our trainers has given all Senior 6 students an amazing foundation, this field trip gave them perspective to build on it. We are optimistic that many business success stories from our students will flood the streets of Rwanda in the near future!
Submitted by Lauren Gross, Village Fellow 2017