Kayonza IT graduate seeks to transform lives of coffee farmers

Egide Murindababisha says he never set out to be an entrepreneur. “I joined the business world ‘accidentally,” he says.
Murindababisha (right) is joined by his customers to spread coffee beans on drying rack at his factory in Kayonza. (Francis Byaruhanga.)
Murindababisha (right) is joined by his customers to spread coffee beans on drying rack at his factory in Kayonza. (Francis Byaruhanga.)

Egide Murindababisha says he never set out to be an entrepreneur. “I joined the business world ‘accidentally,” he says.

The information technology graduate says he joined entrepreneurship as one of the ways to support efforts aimed at improving the value of agro products. It was also sort of a survival mechanism as he wanted to cater for his basic needs following the death of his parents.

Murindababisha has so far made a mark in the agriculture sector, where he deals in coffee both on the local and global stage. The 26-year-old says he started his first enterprise in 2012, and been to explore the world as part of his business operations.

Starting out

Murindababisha says he started by organising peers into a co-operative in 2012. Rusave Farmers’ Co-operative based in Kayonza, which started with only 35 members was early this year transformed into a company, Akagera Coffee Project. He says he ventured into agriculture because of love for farming, adding that his father was also an agriculturalist.

“It was my father who inspired me to get involved in farming, but I also wanted to promote modern agriculture and processing of crops to ensure farmers earn more from their efforts,” he says.

Murindababisha says when he was growing up, his parents were involved in subsistence farmingfor home consumption.

“So, I wanted to Rwandans that farming is a business that one can earn from besides being a source of food,” he says.

He says when he started investing in commercial farming after university. His efforts were to pay off later when he landed lucrative deals to supply coffee to international buyers. Presently, Akagera Coffee Project sells coffee to Rwanda Trading Company, a coffee processor and exporter.

Murindababisha says he was acquired his business acumen “from the hard experiences of life after losing my parents”. “I had no choice but to try all possible means to earn a living,” he says.

Advise to the youth

Murindababisha advises young people, especially graduates, not to wait for white collar jobs, but to create their own enterprises and provide employment for other Rwandans.

“Most African youth are impoverished because they lack drive to create their own jobs.” He says the only way to bridge the widening gap between the rich and poor is through entrepreneurship.

He argues that youth should not blame the government for not “giving” them jobs, noting that they should support it by creating jobs to employ their fellow youth.

He says many students study courses that do not support their aspirations, adding that that is one of the root causes of unemployment. He encourages youth to learn from their parents, particularly those engaged in business, to build skills that could come in handy when they start their own ventures.

“White collar jobs should be second choice, but not primary focus. Youth should not always wait to be employed but create their own jobs,’’ he says. He says establishing an own business to employ others is the best alternative.

Achievements

Murindababisha says Akagera Coffee Project is one of the biggest achievements as the firm employs 30 permanent staff and between 15 and 32 casual labourers.

He says he is among the four architects and founders of another company called Open Tek, a tech firm. “I have a two-hectare coffee plantation which also feeds my factory,” he said.

Future plans

Murindababisha says he is presently looking to increase production through fertiliser application.

He says he wants to supports coffee farmers by providing them seedlings in partnership. The project will de implemented in collaboration with with NAEB.

“I want to start other projects to diversfy my income streams. I am looking at mainly mushroom growing and beekeeping,” he says.

The Adventist University of Central Africa graduate is currently pursuing MSc information at Orebro University.

 

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