Uwihoreye wants to sell made in Rwanda products using E-commerce

With the increasing usage of technology, 24-year-old Leah Uwihoreye saw the unlimited chances for tech startup opportunities and decided to hatch her entrepreneurial dream.

In May this year, she founded her e-commerce platform ‘Golden Thoughts’, a Rwandan-based tech company which seeks to provide solutions to the entrepreneurial challenges in society. She had a chat with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa.

What inspired this particular startup?

Uwihoreye holds a degree in Computer Engineering from University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology. / Timothy Kisambira

I saw lots of potential in technology and Internet, which have made the world one village, and I thought that we could do a lot with these since more business challenges are yet to come.

Also, some young women artisans and SMEs who are producing of Made-in-Rwanda products face a problem of meeting their customers across the globe and therefore, I thought of bringing a solution to that challenge by offering them a platform to meet their needs.

Again, we wanted to contribute to the Government campaign on cashless economy, by saving people money and time, by making all their payments online and delivering to their doors.

Did you receive any training on how to run this particular kind of business?

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology.

My staff and I are undergoing training on e-commerce to support small and medium enterprises online. I was also selected among Bank of Kigali’s 50 Urumuri Entrepreneurs Initiative at a time when my initiative was still in the pipeline and have been going through several months of training.

How can you describe your start-up story?

Starting an online platform is not as easy here in Rwanda, especially because people are not familiar with conducting business online and also getting customers to buy products is a hustle. We have only managed to keep the platform going through persistence and marketing.

What were some of your fears when starting?

One of the fears is buyers who were afraid of shopping online. Sellers on the other hand are afraid of plagiarizing their creativity online but as days go by, people are slowly changing their mind and realizing that online shopping simplifies business.

Can you cite any achievements you have had so far?

So far we have over 10 cooperatives and four individuals, who are selling their products through our platform. We have seven employees, and two are permanent while the other five are part-time.

Even though we have been in business for a short period of time, we are getting more customers each day, and currently stand at an average of 1,500 visits a day.

Another achievement was winning the bronze prize at the YouthConnekt Africa competition; I am currently the African YouthConnekt Ambassador 2017.

I was also chosen to participate in the ‘These numbers have faces’, a non-profit providing scholarships for startups, and we are getting exposed to new investors each day.