28 year old proprietor of Africa Bite, Annette Gakwerere, decided to go private after a series of constant factors.
Daughter to Thancian Gakwerere and the late Joy Gakwerere, Annette was born in the western district of Uganda, Mbarara, where she attended part of her primary education then later came to Rwanda and joined Camp Kigali Primary School.
She later joined Rwanda International Academy and Groupe Scolaire de Gahini, attending Gore University in India thereafter and attaining a degree in Economics. Still on the education path, she went to Holland where she did her Masters in Business Administration but specialized in Corporate Strategy and Economic Policy.
Before going private, Gakwerere worked with the Israel based company Genesis where she worked as the marketing officer and the company’s economist. She worked with Rwanda Import and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA) before it was merged with other parastatals to make Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Then, the desire to be her own boss was so demanding; she decided to go private and has been since 2010.
Despite the fact that she went private, Gakwerere still does some consultancy with various companies, conducting job interviews and training where her service is needed.
Her childhood dream was to help people in any way possible, especially by putting up an orphanage - which is still her dream today. She used her dreams as an inspiration and put a business plan into motion while she did her Masters; the orphanage sounded good but it demanded a lot and her pockets weren’t that deep at the time. So she opted for the restaurant and is now enjoying the fruits of her labour.
“When I finished school, I was determined to start a business with whatever I had in my account. My husband was so supportive and, together, we started looking for funds that would bring my dream closer to reality. While looking around for a good place, we found out that the owner of Africa Bite was moving out and so we occupied the place.”
“It was quite a challenge and to my friends, somewhat disturbing, as they found it strange for someone with a Masters to serve in a restaurant. I was not yet prepared to tell them that I had actually bought the place.”
“The most repeated question by people I was acquainted with, and now found me serving clients at a restaurant was, “how much are you getting paid?” And my answer was always, “Not much, but I enjoy what I do.”
“As time went by, they realised I was the owner of the place, but still they were not convinced why I’d go into business yet I was well educated. Today, most of them confess that they wish they went private, as I did.”
‘I enjoy what I do because I have enough time to spend with my baby too. I come to the restaurant whatever time suits me, do what is needed, have dinner with my husband and even hang out with friends – usually that would be clubbing. Above everything, I will always have time for God,” explains the entrepreneur.
When you find a long queue of people serving themselves, you may think that all is well with Gakwerere but there are a number of challenges she encounters on a day to day basis. Hiking food prices due to different hysterical reasons is one challenge she will continue to face till further notice. Another major problem is meeting all her customers’ needs. It is hard to please them all, she says.
She attributes what she has achieved so far to her customers who never hesitate to advise her accordingly, hence helping her business thrive. Financially, according to her it is still early to determine whether the business is making profits or losses but she admits that sometimes she makes profits that almost add up to nothing.
Gakwerere’s future plan is to have an Africa Bite chain in the country, preferably not renting any of the places she operates from.