Itzhak Fisher, an Israeli that lives in New York and works in Rwanda, first came to Rwanda a few years ago as a tourist. As Chairman of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), in the last five years, he travelled to Kigali 26 times, from New York, a 22-hour flight, because he believed Rwanda is “the land of opportunities,” he told delegates at the end of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Kigali on Thursday, June 23. For Fisher, Rwanda is the start-up nation in Africa. When he first landed in the small east African nation, it was not just the clean streets and the amazing beauty of the country that caught his eye, but the people. “When you talk to people in Rwanda you sense, immediately, the eagerness to learn and the eagerness to succeed, and the openness for new ideas, and the openness to do business,” he said in a discussion during the morning session, solely about investing in Rwanda. Panellists showcased Rwanda as; a friendly and easy place to do business, a place to test new ideas, prove concepts, or launch a business, and a place to invest, do business and expand in other countries. “There are amazing opportunities in any area that you touch. And there are eager local partners that are waiting to work with you,” Fisher said, telling first-time visitors, that “in Rwanda, there are a lot of opportunities with great returns.” Rwanda showcased its investment opportunities during the Commonwealth Business Forum. In 2014, Mamy Muziga Ingabire, a Rwandan who is CEO of Charis UAS, the leading drone company in Rwanda, and her team, founded the firm to make what she called “meaningful impact by solving challenges found here in our continent.” Having tested and approved the technology, locally, they are scaling up to other countries; providing solutions in agriculture, energy, construction, and other sectors. “We are providing services in six countries in Africa. We have our second big office in Abidjan, Côte dIvoire, and it all started here, in Rwanda,” she said. “The regulators understood the ideas behind it and created an enabling environment and ecosystem for us to be able to create, and innovate, and here we are.” Leadership and political stability MP Andrew Mitchell, a member of the UK House of Commons and former Secretary of State for International Development first came to Rwanda nearly 20 years ago and, he has followed the country’s story “with great affection and great respect.” The main point he made at the Commonwealth Business Forum was: “from the moment you land in Rwanda, you know that you are in a different sort of country to all those around.” “You can see the extraordinary social mobility in this country. The second easiest place to do business in Africa. And what was an agricultural society and is now, clearly, a growing services and growing manufacturing sector,” Mitchell said. “But it is above all, in my view, the leadership and political stability which make Rwanda such an incredibly attractive place in which to invest. It is the fact that there is a rule of law for investors.” When Mitchell first came to Rwanda, 80 per cent of the national budget came from donors and 20 per cent locally was generated. In 2018, 83 per cent was locally generated and only 17 per cent, internationally. “This is not just a land of opportunity for the people who are here. It is a tremendous land of opportunity for the international investment community who I hope will give it increased and added attention as a result of this great meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government,” Mitchell said. Dogus Holding, a 70-year old Turkish group of which covers sectors ranging from tourism, real estate and media to financial services, construction and autos, worldwide, set foot in Rwanda a few years ago and is looking to do big things in the country. Ferit Sahenk, the Dogus Holding CEO, noted: “When I met president Kagame I was immediately in love with this country. A great visionary. And he loves his country and his people. This is very important.” Rwanda has also become “a shining example” for DP World, an Emirati multinational logistics company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The CEO and MD at DP World Kigali, Capt. Sumeet Bhardwaj, a retired sea captain working with the Kigali logistics platform in helping establish a regional logistics hub to facilitate trade within the EAC region and beyond, said it was “a quick decision” for them to come to Rwanda. “The environment for investors is very favourable. It was a no-brainer for DP World because we saw an opportunity to create a logistics hub over here which could benefit the entire region,” Capt. Bhardwaj said.