Gerald Mpyisi is; former Math teacher and IT professional turned successful business man. ROBERT MUGABE finds out how he underwent this incredible metamorphosis.
Who is Gerald Mpyisi?
I am 58 year-old, married man and father of four girls and one boy. I hold a Bachelors degree in Mathematics and Physics and a Master’s degree in Computer Science.
I am a computer programmer and software designer by profession. After my Bachelor’s degree, I taught mathematics and physics in a high school in Nairobi.
In 1985 I completed my Masters degree. I started an IT company in Kenya called To Days Software systems. I came back to Rwanda and worked for the Ministry of Defence as an IT director. I left the Ministry in 2000 and went into private business.
Tell us about some of your business interests
My business interests are mainly those that will have an impact on the community. I developed the Business Communication Service, a company that has three main products: Tuvugane the most affordable mobile public call boxes, which people started referring to as —Pyinsi’s call box, after me.
The second product is Kigali Taxi Services. The third product is a call centre. In the beginning of 2008, I left BCS management and started four other companies.
Which companies are you talking about?
One is a tracking system which deals with tracking vehicles wherever they are in East Africa by the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
The second company deals with solar energy solution- providing electricity to the rural areas.
The third is Inspire Management Institute –providing training and consultancy within the region.
Where do you get time to do all these things?
These are not the only things I do. I am a board member of FINA Bank, Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency and the Chairperson of Kenya-Rwanda Business Association (KRBA).
Life is about setting priorities, managing time, sacrifice and working smart. I do not have time to hang out with friends in the evening and watch football, because it is not a priority for me.
My priority is making money and my family. I am not bothered or embarrassed about making money, whichever name you call me so long as get money.
Who inspires you?
No individual but I will never forget a conversation I had with a businessman who said to me, “you’re poor because you want to be”. He further asked me if I took time to think of ways of earning more money.
To be honest, at the time I was angry with the man, but I was also very challenged by him. He asked yet another question, “how many hours do you sleep?
‘Seven to eight hours”, was my reply. His advice to me was to focus on how I used the rest of the 16 hours. Since then, I changed how I managed my time.
What advice would you give other business people struggling to make it?
Focus on the hours you spend awake, don’t waste time. Be smart in your business, do not get bothered by how you make money and the names people will call you, making money should be your priority because every country is what it is, because of money.
Tell me something about the Kenya-Rwanda Business Association?
Kenya-Rwanda Business Association (KRBA) was founded in Nairobi by a group of Kenyans and Rwandans in business and professionals who work and reside in Kenya.
These people had the desire to create an organisation that can promote investments between Kenya and Rwanda. It would also promote the business and professional interests of its members in the two countries and boost business and trade. The association works closely with the private sector bodies of both countries in achieving its objectives.
What is the current input of Kenyan business in the country?
Well, we have many Kenyan companies in the country; like Serena, Nakumatt, FINA Bank, Africa Air Rescue (AAR) and so many, small and medium companies’ at least investing good money in the country.
These companies have registered with Rwanda Revenue Authority and Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA).
Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, accompanied by Wachira Mahihu the chair of KRBA Kenya Chapter, during a recent state visit, announced the waiving of work permits for Rwandans in Kenya. I believe this was the influence of the Kenya chapter.
What is the future of the Kenya-Rwanda Business Association?
Good question, soon we are going to change the name of the association to East Africa Business Association. That means, we shall have one association within East Africa and every country will have a business association.
We shall have Rwanda Business Association, Kenya Business Association, Burundi Business Association and so on. We shall be under the East Africa Business Council, governed by the East African Community.
When we unite as one body, then the Rwanda Business Association will be a stronger institution. The current Private Sector Federation is not entirely a private entity as it is partially funded by the government.
In developed countries with strong economy, the economy is in the hands of private sector. The public sector’s role is to develop infrastructure like roads, water and electricity. The governments’ role is to facilitate a favourable business environment.