Earlier this week, top Rwandan and Indian officials signed three bilateral agreements including a Memorandum of Understanding on establishing the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC), in Rwanda.
The MoU signed by François Kanimba, Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs and Amar Sinha, External Relations Secretary in India’s Ministry of External Affairs remains in effect for three years before it is renewed – by mutual consent.
The date for launching is yet to be made public but the MoU indicates that India wants to assist Rwanda set up an EDC in Kigali and provide overall technical assistance for this purpose on a turnkey basis.
Set up of the EDC is to be within the Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM), a public project intent on closing the gap between vocational technical trainings and higher education.
The government of India shall use services of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI) Ahmedabad as the technical consultant in setting up the Rwandan project, reads the agreement.
Mucyo Rutishisha, an official at the Rwanda High Commission in New Delhi, says the Indian institute has proven experience in the field of entrepreneurship in India as well as in south east Asia “as a centre of excellence in linking vocational training, microfinance and income generating activities in urban and rural areas.”
“I have no doubt that this MoU will further strengthen vocational training and entrepreneurship for Rwandan the youth, especially women and men in urban and rural localities,” Rutishisha added.
The Indian institute, an autonomous and not-for-profit institute, set up in 1983, teaches students to identify opportunities and check their practicability. Through mentoring and guidance, students prepare business plans and are given a platform to pitch ideas to banks and investors, so that they can launch own ventures.
According to the agreement, in conformity with RICEM’s vision – to be a vocational training centre of excellence for entrepreneurship, cooperatives and microfinance institutions – the EDC will establish an entrepreneurship training facility; provide technical services to new entrepreneurs in setting up their new enterprises; and provide assistance in accessing finance to develop enterprises to trainees who have completed training.
The centre will also offer capacity building programmes to existing entrepreneurs in areas that include performance improvement and growth of SMEs, and export marketing.
It will set up incubation facilities for promoting high-tech, innovative enterprises; introduce entrepreneurship courses in education system of the country at all levels; and provide other relevant training and services to entrepreneurs on need basis.
“The above activities are designed to lead to high economic growth, employment generation and overall industrial development of Rwanda,” reads the MoU.
As noted, the EDC will have the vision of developing itself into a centre of excellence for providing training and education in entrepreneurship; thereby facilitating creation of viable and competitive new enterprises and strengthening the existing ones.
It will create, indigenous entrepreneurs, who will be efficient and effective in the emerging global competitive environment. The centre would also work towards opening its branches in other major cities of Rwanda.
Patrick Buchana, chairperson of Young ICT Entrepreneurs, believes the centre is “a very good idea” for Rwanda considering the prevailing challenges such as lack of experience and finance.
Buchana says there are many brilliant ideas but some local startups simply do not have enough experience or “even when an idea starts and scales up to a level where it needs to expand, say to a new market, the skill that people need to run a big company become a problem.”
“India has vast experience in this area. Many Indian companies are spreading their wings further into the world, including Airtel in Rwanda, and having them share knowledge would help.”
Responsibilities of each party
Responsibilities of each party are clarified and, among others, the government of Rwanda shall: provide functional and operational office, training and library space as appropriate to house the EDC campus. Rwanda will also meet operational costs of the EDC including faculty and local staff salaries, utilities, maintenance and overheads.
On the other hand, the government of India shall, among others, purchase and supply library books including published video cassettes; capital expenditure on the purchase of supplies; and meet training costs of the faculty proposed centre, in India.
They will also meet the costs of providing technical support through the EDI for a period of three years for institutionalizing activities in Rwanda, by posting an advisor to the EDC to support the Director and Faculty, among others.
Meanwhile, the EDI of India shall be responsible for: developing a detailed business plan or centre feasibility study including the training need assessment of potential and existing entrepreneurs; and evolving operation framework for functioning of the centre.
The Indian centre will also identify a basket of about 100 high potential business opportunities and prepare project profiles on each for facilitating trainees in identification of their businesses. It will also formulate and implement capacity building programmes for local representatives of chambers of commerce and industries and industry associations; and assist government in establishing business incubators and creating an ‘innovation eco-system’ to promote high tech, innovative businesses.