The story of Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and the Community Health Workers’ Cooperative commercial complex in Karongi in Rwanda are clear indicators of how economic transformation is possible in societies, especially where people come and stay together.
When the RPF Inkotanyi stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, they immediately put in place the Government of National Unity.
Many questioned the essence of that type of government especially with the conditions that prevailed at the time.
The country was considered a failed state, and there were neither operational institutions nor human capital to run them.
The Government had the prime responsibility to restore unity amongst Rwandans, and to ensure the unity of the nation. It was not an easy task; it required vision and resilience of the leaders.
All great social, political anomic transformations are preceded by brilliant ideas by visionaries who dared to dream big.
But only one thing prevailed, the Rwandan spirit which had three major pillars: unity, accountability and thinking big.
Philosophically; something important is that of great value but which is not substantial. You can live with or without it; but you need it.
Something essential is that; which is vital, completely necessary or extremely important in a particular situation or for a particular activity; you can’t live without it.
Thus, staying together is essential for Rwanda’s prosperity.
Government officials have been rallying different districts, luring local business communities and opinion leaders to come together for investments.
The objective is to ensure local economic development, urban development and investment promotion. That is essential for the prosperity of the country. It allows for deeper penetration of wealth and widens the tax base thus fueling national development.
There are successful stories that can be shared.
The City of Kigali has an attractive view, modern markets and ultramodern commercial complexes whose shareholding can be estimated in dozens if not hundreds of members each.
Detractors shall always be there to claim, rather erroneously, that the development in Rwanda is only visible in the capital city.
Should I repeat that; such claims are false? I am compelled to say it again. They are not only false, but also those who spread them are wrong.
Nevertheless, facts on the ground shall speak by themselves, and I will always invite every Rwandan to visit his country in the “Tembera u Rwanda” program to see and to enjoy the beauties of the country. I shall always encourage those from outside to come and see, so that they can go and tell others.
Let’s mention few examples. Private operators came together and built modern commercial complexes in different parts of the country.
They built multi billion commercial complexes in Huye, Rusizi, Muhanga, Musanze and most recently, a Community Health Workers’ cooperative in Karongi built a commercial complex worth 350 million francs.
These business related success stories attest to the importance of coming together. It enables resource mobilization and it allows everyone to have a voice in doing business.
Prosperity does not come over night; it is a result of hardships.
It has been established that; some of the aging persons are hesitating to invest, because they can hardly earn the trust of commercial banks to get access to loans.
It is better to think about our children and to associate them in our today’s investments. The future belongs to them and banks can easily trust them.
As Rwandans, we should draw lessons from the above big investments. Their unity gave them more strength and gained them trust from all stakeholders, especially financial and public institutions.
However, the profitability and sustainability of those businesses shall largely depend on how united and accountable the shareholders will be.
As the saying goes; coming together is a beginning, keeping together is a progress, working together is a success.
In their roadmap for economic transformation, Alexander Schieffer and Ronnie Lessem in their book; Integral Development: Realizing the transformative potential of individuals, noted the need to reinvent an economic system that works for all.
They said that; we could not address organizational transformation in isolation of an economic transformation. Thus, we are collectively called upon to seek a more viable alternative, an economic system that works for all Rwandans and, such a system is a crucial prerequisite for their collective prosperity.
These local business operators who put together their capital to make big investments are the real engine for socioeconomic transformation. Not only do they transform their own lives, but also their communities.
In addition to the prevailing conducive environment for doing business, the sustainability of the local investments shall depend on the unity of the shareholders, level of accountability to themselves, shared vision, profitable business plans and affordability of credits.
The writer is a political analyst and member of the PanAfrican Movement, Rwanda Chapter