What we have achieved in a very short time is quite frankly, exceptional. It did not happen by accident. It was all deliberate. It is the hard work of many men and women who work tirelessly. Yes, today Rwanda is a success story, but the world is not standing still. The next two decades will be very different. Economies in Africa are advancing rapidly. Breakthroughs in science and technology will transform our lives. Rwanda will encounter many new challenges and opportunities. So, we must constantly ask ourselves some fundamental questions: What future do we see for Rwanda? What kind of home do we want for our children? I believe all of us want to be proud to be Rwandans, and to live in a successful country that meets our aspirations. At the same time, we must be very careful. Success can also be a very dangerous thing if not tamed. It's important to stay vigilant, to continue to work hard, and to never take success for granted. Because, as individuals or organizations achieve success, it can sometimes lead to complacency. Complacency is a dangerous state of mind that can ultimately lead to failure. Are we complacent? You see, once we achieve a certain level of success, we start to feel like we deserve it, one is tempted to take success for granted. This can result in lack of effort and reduced focus on the things that helped us achieve said success in the first place. Like a runner in Tour du Rwanda, success in one lap gives great advantage, but doesn’t guarantee success in the next stage, whose climb is usually steeper, and harder. The belief that success is guaranteed. Each year, the business community suffers more than the previous one. In short, they regress whilst the mantra of the nation is to keep moving forward. Most bureaucrats behave as regulators and not facilitators. It is becoming more difficult to open a small shop. Movement of cargo trucks in the city is increasingly hindered. Access to finance for SMEs and small holder agriculture is tougher and this isn’t addressed quickly enough. In short, all the levers of business aren’t optimised. There is a fundamental issue somewhere and people must have a candid discussion on how it went wrong. My friend Muhire, like many of us, has a small business in one of the markets. He called me the other day saying “ko basigaye baturwanya mu bucuruzi bwacu, na byo tuzabireke?” He is considering quitting and looking for a salaried job, because between the several government institutions they have rendered his business difficult to operate. The story of Muhire, is the story of Mutesi, the story of Umuhoza and many others. As Muhire and Mutesi suffer, the custodians of the business ecosystem seem more comfortable around celebrities than small business owners. What they forget is that a stronger Muhire and Umuhoza will ensure their way of life is maintained. Muhire and Mutesi make the biggest base of taxpayers. You grow them, attend to them, you effectively will be building the nation. Rwanda afterall, is a nation of small business holders. It is the story of gakinjiro and isoko rya Kimironko etc. The idea of big business doesn't exist. We need to quit building free zones and all these mega infrastructure to support the “big business” while small businesses are left on their own. If you look at the structure of our labour force, over 3/4 of our labor/work force works in micro and small enterprises. But while we look at policy, it is made for people at the top of the pyramid- about 15%. Fundamentally, there is a conflict between an economic system that generates a higher return on capital and an economic system that generates incomes and jobs. When you talk about economic growth and prosperity for a country, it boils down to labour productivity. That’s when you ask yourself, where is your labour force? Then you target what would raise the productivity of the labour force; if it is smallholder agriculture, to increase yield per square meter, if it is milk production, yield per cow. When you talk “doing business”, you must also think “doing small business”. Improved infrastructure is all in the benefits of owners of capital. There is no guarantee that it will increase productivity of farmers, or opening up of factories. What is certain is that owners of capital will get richer and the government debt will increase. Our capital is concentrated where it creates profits, by design, instead of where it will create jobs and incomes for the masses. Where our workforce is, is not where our capital is. So we need to deconcentrate capital. The fact that we say money is concentrated, it means that certain people have cornered the savings of the country. That is the connection between capital and finance. We therefore need to capitalize the economy at the bottom of the pyramid. The conversation around redistribution is usually about income. There is very little economic conversation about redistribution of capital. So what we need to do is look at finance and ask yourself, how do we then enable the people at the bottom to accumulate capital as we say in economics? The smallholder farmers or MSMEs have equipment and working capital to purchase inputs to be more productive. Public finances must be deconcentrated. We are making capital intensive choices because of the mindset of the people running government institutions. The opportunity cost of pushing investment in one sector over another is critical. If you read the literature about south east Asia at the time (Lee Kuan Yew books etc), you will notice a pre-occupation of how we create jobs for our people. Over the next few years, a big chunk of government finances, mostly accumulated through local or foreign borrowing, should go to small holder farmers and SMEs to create a bigger consumer base. We have to bring the focus to the people that deserve it. It will require a lot to get the machine rolling, but it must be done. Let us get back to the drawing board. A first step would be to set up a ministry in charge of SMEs so that we can constantly shine a light to it. Afterall, what Rwanda becomes depends on what we make of it. With our resources, our resolve, and our imagination, Rwanda is well placed to thrive in a changing world. Let us all work together so that our children can always find here hope of a better future, an inclusive society with a heart, and the best home for ourselves and our families.