Treading the unpredictable path of self-employment

YOUNG ADULTS across the globe are always encouraged to ‘create their own jobs rather than work for other people’. Naturally this makes a lot of sense to many, and often, after graduation, these youngsters set out to make their dreams come true.
Top: You can come from working in the kitchen to actually owning the kitchen. Left: Many graduates leave with the hope of  pursuing their dreams.  Net photos
Top: You can come from working in the kitchen to actually owning the kitchen. Left: Many graduates leave with the hope of pursuing their dreams. Net photos

YOUNG ADULTS across the globe are always encouraged to ‘create their own jobs rather than work for other people’. Naturally this makes a lot of sense to many, and often, after graduation, these youngsters set out to make their dreams come true.

Sadly, not everyone can say things went exactly the way they wanted them to.  While others are lucky to live their dream and ‘be their own boss’, others take on jobs they have no interest in just for employment’s sake. And for some, irresistible job opportunities have come their way more quickly than anticipated.

Ildephonse Mungwarakarama, the founder of House of Technology, a company that provides IT solutions, says convincing some parents that you don’t want to work for anyone and would rather take the job creator’s route is like talking about witchcraft.

“Every morning my mother would tell me that a certain uncle had gotten me a job and all I said was that I don’t need to work for anyone. Three months down the road I still didn’t have anything tangible to show,” he narrates. “They started thinking I was mad and disobedient, they even called for family meetings to talk to me.”

Mungwarakarama wasn’t shaken up even with all this. He stuck to his dream because he strongly believed in himself.

“Now that I am a great success, people have realised just how much my perseverance wasn’t in vain. My monthly income is 10 times higher than any of the jobs I was offered and I am now creating jobs and not working for someone,” he says proudly.

Mungwarakarama’s choice to prove he could be whoever he wanted to be created a rift between him and his parents. For Peter Nkurikiye, it was a different case. His battle was against his fiancé who thought he was wasting time.

“I was working at a popular bank in Kigali. I then decided I wanted to work for myself, develop a financial management system and then earn from it because working for someone else was really hectic and tiresome,” he says.

Nkurikiye then started the journey to his new goal. A year later, he still had no source of income but would wake up every morning and leave the house, claiming he was working on something.

“My fiancé started strongly doubting me, saying I was not a focused man and that I didn’t know what I wanted in life. Obviously for a lady that was looking at me as her life companion, she couldn’t stand it anymore,” he says. “At some point I almost went back to job seeking.”

His first project collapsed due to lack of funds and poor coordination. When he told his fiancé, all she could say was that she told him so. At that point he felt like the world had turned against him. On the other hand, his mentor, also his brother, told him to keep trying and promised to take care of his basic needs like he had always done.

“When I told my girlfriend about trying again, she decided there was no point in being with me anymore and called me the most unserious guy she had ever known. She then left me and this helped me focus on my project. Today I earn quite a lot and I’ve laid out my project in two countries - Rwanda and Uganda,” he says.

While most graduates think life is smooth, their parents think otherwise. John Manzi, an engineer and father to three boys says graduates claim they can grow to run their own companies but letting his son go for this theory sheepishly is like stabbing him in the back.

“My youngest son graduated at the age of 24 and because he has watched too many movies including documentaries about the likes of Bill Gates, he thought he could also start his own company! His grades were good enough to get him a first class job in many big companies. Why would I let him drown in shame chasing unrealistic dreams,” he says sternly.  He adds that when his son is old enough and has gained some experience then maybe he can take on his dream.

Jean Pierre Tuyisenge graduated in 2009 from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. He had the vision of starting a company that would provide web solutions for organisations and companies. When he suggested this to his parents, they talked him out of it and asked him to stop being naive.

“My partner paid a deaf ear to all of this. He went on despite all our friends calling him mad and asking him to apply for jobs in other companies. Today, I look at my friend and envy him, he is doing really well and yet here I am working at an NGO.”

Tuyisenge says that if he went back in time he wouldn’t have paid attention to all the things that his friends and family said to him.

“Even though people don’t believe in you, you can still make it. The fact that you prefer to work for yourself as opposed to working for someone else should be a drive to success. Even though you fail, you learn from it and try again because you believe in yourself,” he said with regret.

 “Transparency before friends and family is very important,” says Andreas Nørlem Christensen, the Chief Executive Officer at Educat, an organisation that helps develop entrepreneurship and leadership skills in the community.  He adds that it’s very important to get support from these two parties because it’s not easy to convince anyone else.

“Yes, at the start of one’s own business it’s a very difficult time and it needs a lot of commitment. It would also be very wise for someone working on a project to get an evening job then work on the venture during the day,” he says.

When it comes to employees that want to start their own businesses, he advises that while working for someone else, they should start preparing and working on their concept before starting the business.  Or, if possible, they should ask their bosses to let them work half time in order to devote some time for their new project.

“Unless one has rich parents who are willing to finance them, then it would be wise to have a side income source while still devoting most of their attention to the project.” he says.

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Would you quit your job to venture into self-employment?

Yes, most definitely. No one likes being bossed around by someone else or waking up in the rain just because one has to make it to work on time. I would definitely leave my job for self employment.

Hope Kansiime


Right from childhood, I never wanted to work for anyone. I said to myself that I will be a job creator and not a seeker and indeed that is what I am doing now. I love what I am doing because I am my own boss and choose when to work.

Moussa Habineza


Yes, everyone wants to be their own boss and everyone wants to own their own business. Much as it’s wanted by everyone, it’s not easy to achieve. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment so I would think twice about it. Not forgetting there is the possibility of failure.

Hussein Ntambiye

Well, I would think about it very carefully. I am not a patient person so I don’t think I am in place to venture into self employment since it takes a lot of patience.

Benjamin Kinobe

 

 

 

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