He studied physics for almost three years at university, but switched courses to study computer science at the former National University of Rwanda.
Léandre Cyusa Mucyowiraba says he wanted to study a course that provided hands-on skills.
A Genocide survivor, Cyusa adds that he wanted something where he could apply equipment repair skills he gained while growing up and raise money to look after his siblings.
He says this (taking care of Genocide orphans) was also one of the reasons that forced him to work as a photographer at functions like weddings and church events.
“I had to balance school and work but the physics course required a lot of time. So I had no option but to change courses to get time for work,” he says.
He adds that besides his siblings, there were over 20 other Genocide orphans he was looking after.
“Because I used to help many students at university, they would always recommended me to people they knew for video coverage and still photography jobs,” he says.
“At the beginning it was hard as I had to hire cameras, but I persisted. How else would I look after the children if I gave up?”
Forming an ICT firm
With time, he raised enough money from photography and started a company.
He says after graduating from university, he told friends he would start a business, but all of them discouraged him, arguing that ‘it was difficult’.
While ignoring the naysayers, he started Cyusa Digital Agency (CYUDA), an ICT company located at Gisimenti in Remera, Gasobo District in 2008. The firm offers technology solutions for city and up-country clients.
It also trains youth and does repair works.
“I needed at least Rwf3m to start, but I did not want to wait for others to raise the money,” he says.
He was lucky that he landed a job as a translator at an evangelical conference, where he earned Rwf850,000.
With this money and other savings, he bought a computer and rented an office.
“I had no one to support me, but I thought that if I gave up, it would be a failure of my life. So, I had to fight on.
“Later, I managed to hire more computers and sometimes sourced for part-time workers to deliver on people’s projects in time,” he says.
Cyusa says he was forced to outsource workers at the beginning because he could not afford paying full-time employees.
In 2011, when the business started bringing in profits, he set up new facilities and hired 10 permanent employees whom he pays between Rwf100,000 and Rwf500,000.
Cyusa, who was born in Muhima sector, Nyarugenge District, says he earns about Rwf4m per month.
Why ICT business?
“Today’s computer era is centred around ICT, be it in communication, business, telecoms, etc, so the industry
has a lot of potential and is still growing,” he says.
Cyusa says besides being an ICT graduate, he enjoyed dismantling and assembling gadgets as a child.
“I always wanted to make something or mend that which had a fault,” he says.
That is how I ended up in ICT; and it was a dream come true when I was given a course in the field I loved, he adds.
He says that his company offers long distance wireless (WiFi) network services to NGOs and businesses that have regional or field offices, and government officials visiting rural areas.
“My company is delivering solutions for people operating in hard to reach areas across the country,” he notes.
A long distance WiFi access point is a low-power wireless device that allows one or more locations to connect to distant Internet services in order to reach and/or share access to the Internet.
Cyusa reveals that he has created a platform www.inyungu.com to help farmers market their produce.
He says he was inspired to create the online marketplace farming because it is key for people in the rural areas.
Cyusa employs 17 workers.
He is the only one who does consultancy on most of IT projects in different areas, and services almost all gadgets made by IBM, a US electronics firm. The 35-year-old has his own ride, which he says has eased his work, especially when he is called to service equipment out of town.
Cyusa advises the youth to have a positive outlook and believe ‘in the impossible’. He also encourages youth to support one another.
“We cannot have vision without having faith. We are alive so we need to have progressive thoughts and put them into practice,” says the father of one.