Finding & Fixing the Gaps in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Rwanda

Finding & Fixing the Gaps in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Rwanda

GEW-Rwanda-2015-blog-post

What hampers businesses to thrive in Rwanda? That was the question that led the roundtable organized by BiD Network and Ejo Partners as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Entrepreneurs, Business Development Service providers and financiers came together to collaboratively discuss the problems and solutions. Equipped with post-its in different colors, all participants got to indicate their perceived problems and solutions. A recurring theme was the attitude of the entrepreneurs. The problem post-its were filled with “a lack of entrepreneurial spirit,” the solution post-its with “changing the attitude of entrepreneurs.”

More specifically, below are 5 problems and 5 solutions as a result of the roundtable.

 

PROBLEMS

  1. The biggest problem is how to get stakeholders to collaborate more. Particularly banks are comfortable in their own space. Roundtables such as this one organized by BiD Network can only go so far.
  2. Record keeping remains challenging. Bookkeeping should be a practice incorporated from the very beginning. It aids in forming a strategy and improving access to finance. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs only realize the necessity when they are in need of finance.
  3. Entrepreneurs like to be in charge. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is important to know what is going on in your business. On the other hand, it does undermine the ability of experts taking certain activities on.
  4. There is a disconnection between the high international product standards and the low purchasing power in Rwanda. To create products that can be exported means increasing production costs. This translates into prices that have a high likelihood of excluding the local market.
  5. Bank lending rates are sky high. In search of alternatives, entrepreneurs turn to other investors. Investors – having the luxury to cherry pick – set return demands that are unrealistic for most businesses.

SOLUTIONS

  1. To aid access to finance via banks, a savings mindset would be advisable. Not only does this give insight into the behavior of entrepreneurs, it also helps to lower the banks interest rates as currently banks are forced to get capital outside of the country.
  2. Peer-to-peer learning from one entrepreneur to another would stimulate knowledge sharing that is both practical and experienced.
  3. Additionally, local role models could stimulate the entrepreneurial mindset. Particularly women indicated the need to feel closer to their role models.
  4. The current training available for entrepreneurs strongly differs in quality and standing. Standardizing training levels allow entrepreneurs to make a better-informed decision of which training would be most beneficial to them.
  5. Assistance in transforming locally offered products into exportable products. Export products give entrepreneurs access to foreign currency, which can offset inflation and currency fluctuation.