President Paul Kagame hosted a delegation from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania—which comprised of 33 students from the faculty of Wharton Business School – at Village Urugwiro in Kigali yesterday.
The visiting team of students is undertaking a course dubbed, “Conflict, leadership and change: lessons from Rwanda,” and through this course, the students seek to understand why the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi happened and the leadership process that has shaped to Rwanda’s recovery journey.
Founded by Prof. Katherine J. Klein and Eric Kacou, the course, which is in its fifth year, aims to teach Rwanda’s history and rebuilding process.
Speaking to the students, President Kagame shared Rwanda’s story of transformation.
“What we are doing is shaped by our history and the lessons we learned when rebuilding a shattered country and torn social fabric. People got together and said we can only make a difference when we shape our future and leave our past behind,” Kagame said.
“We feel we should move even faster because of where we are coming from and where we want to be,” Kagame added.
Shortly after meeting President Kagame, the vice dean of Wharton Social Impact initiative Prof Klein said that the group benefitted “greatly” from the exchange with the President, particularly about the country’s vision and zeal to prosper.
She added that for all the five visits to Rwanda, students come with a curious mind to learn what Rwanda can offer, and they draw personal lessons and incorporate those lessons in their lives.
“We have come here several times, and the lessons we learn over and over again are about the power of vision, and importance of inspiring people to a larger vision, the commitment to improving the country for everyone, the power of goal setting, the power matrix,” Klein said.
“This is a country that has deep patriotism among the people and a deep commitment to rebuilding their country; that kind of commitment probably comes in part from the tragic past, but it is very powerful to us to see a people who are committed totheir country’s future.” Klein said.
Klein noted that some students have worked in Rwanda before while some have expressed interest in working in the country, “We are exploring different way through which my school and my university may be able to build partnerships in Rwanda.”
In September 2015, Kagame addressed the Wharton Business School during a lecture organised by the Social Impact Initiative and the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
During his address, the President shared with more than 800 students, faculty members of the Wharton community Rwanda’s journey to reconstruction.
Following this visit, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) developed a partnership framework with the school that includes courses on financial literacy for high school students, and an executive course for Rwanda’s managers in banks, insurances, microfinance institutions, regulators (such as Capital Market Authority and the central bank), e-payments among other financial sector players.
Francis Gatare, RDB’s Chief Executive Officer, said that RDB is partnering with the school to develop a social impact investment strategy in collaboration with a startup accelerator to strengthen entrepreneurial venture based in Rwanda.
“It is a great pleasure to see such a school coming to learn from Rwanda,” said Gatare adding that, “Wharton Business School is one of the Ivy League business schools in the US, and it is very prominent particularly in the finance sector of MBA.”
He said one of the emerging sections of finance, particularly in investment finance, is social impact investment, which is at the intersection of business and philanthropy, and that RDB has been exploring possibilities through which they can attract investors in the sector.
Established in 2010, Wharton Business School Impact initiative works to develop and promote business strategies for a “better world,” with a focus on the impact of finance, entrepreneurship, impact analytics and strategic corporate social impacts through research, consulting, hands-on training, and outreach.