Business leaders were among the more than 350 people who attended the just-concluded 16th National Leadership Retreat.
Unlike in the past when the business community would be represented only by top Private Sector Federation (PSF) officials such as its CEO and Chairperson, some of the country’s business operators were invited to this year’s retreat.
Assumpta Uwamariya, the youthful proprietor of Karisimbi Wines Ltd — which makes tasty wines and other juices from beetroot is among the business leaders who attended the retreat for the first time.
Uwamariya told The New Times that she made three commitments from the retreat including changing the mindset.
“There are things I never bothered to try because I thought them to be impossible. I am going to stop limiting myself and will try out many things and see what works and what does not,” she said.
One of the things she used to think were impossible, she explained, is competing on the international market. The other is her ability to produce enough for the market.
Uwamariya whose business operates from Rubavu District in Western Province is keen to exploit the business incentives given to the youth.
“There are many organisations supporting youth in business, such as NIRDA [National Industrial Research and Development Agency] which gives out machines and equipment to small and medium-sized enterprises.”
She is also committed to encourage more youth to take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to them. Uwamariya has also committed to network better as well as often seek leaders’ guidance whenever necessary and collaborate in finding solutions where issues arise.
According to Stephen Ruzibiza, the PSF Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the business community is dedicated to increasing domestic investments to produce competitive and affordable products.
This year’s deliberations included sessions on investments, increasing agricultural productivity, and human capital development, specifically on improving the quality of education and health.
Jacques Rusirare, the owner of paint-making plant, Ameki Color, said that his company is on a mission to ensure quality work.
“We will carry on our emphasis on quality work and service, and seeing to it that we produce enough for our market. We will ensure we meet the standards as far as quality assurance is concerned,” Rusirare said.
His rationale is that once the market reacts positively to his businesses and products or services, the country also gains since he creates jobs, among other things. Rusirare was particularly happy to attend the National Leadership Retreat for the first time and noted that allowing business people in “gives us hope.”
“It allowed us to best explain what we are involved in and it helped build confidence.”
According to Jérémie Kalisa, Managing Director of Afrifoam, which manufactures paint and mattresses said they are committed to enhancing the local brand.
“We are going with the policy of supporting our made in Rwanda products. We especially will look into diversification and research to attain the quality and standards similar to what you find elsewhere in the East African Community, and at affordable prices,” Kalisa said.
Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister for Trade and Industry said they analysed the problems challenging the industry sector and suggested the way forward on how to support private sector growth.
The minister said that government plans to help build the capacity of local industries in marketing and sales in addition to providing guarantees in addition to facilitating them to increase access bank loans and other forms of financing.
“All those policies are aimed at building the capacity for our private sector and preparing them to enter an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It is necessary for traders and producers to be ready to face great competition as the access a wider African market,” she said.