When Janvier Mihigo and Oscar Bizwinumutima completed vocational education training at Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) in Nyamata, Bugesera District, they were confident they would land jobs right away.
Their hopes slowly waned as months ticked by without any opportunity of employment coming their way. “We had got out of college with a lot of aspirations and knew we would not take, at most, six months without finding good jobs,” says Mihigo.
They say after walking Kigali and provincial towns streets for two years searching for jobs, they decided to start a repair shop. Amazonie-Computer and Electronic Services based in Nyabugogo Taxi in Kigali deals in repairs of computer and other electronic devices, sells electronics, trains students and other individuals in ICT, as well as does after sales services.
The venture, that Mihigo, 27, and Bizwinumutima, 26, opened with startup capital of Rwf300,000 is now worth Rwf3.5 million.
Preparing take off
After deciding to join hands, the holders of A2 diplomas first enrolled for one-year apprenticeship programme at an electronic workshop in Nyabugogo to gain hands-on skills.
“With the hands-on skills and experience, we were ready to start our own workshop. That’s how Amazonie-Computer and Electronic Services was born,” says Mihigo.
They say they started the venture in 2012 with Rwf300,000 from their savings accumulated during the apprenticeship period.
“We used the money to pay rent and buy some basic materials to kick-start the enterprise,” Bizwinumutima explains. The project is now worth Rfw3.5 million.
The partners earn Rwf250,000 per month, and currently have Rwf1 million as savings in the bank, according to Mihigo.
More benefits and future plans
Mihigo says he is building a permanent house in his home village in Nyarugenge District, while his partner Bizwinumutima has already bagged a bachelor’s of science degree from Saint Laurent University using savings from the business.
The group offers internship and training opportunities for secondary students during holidays.
The venture has expanded and employs two permanent technicians to ensure better and fast service delivery.
The entrepreneurs plan to develop the business into an ICT innovation centre for quality ICT and electronic services in the near future.
According to the two young men, they have been successful thus far, thanks to their passion for what they do, patience and hard work.
“We enjoy what we do... We intentionally spent one year in apprenticeship to sharpen our skills because we love the profession. We take pride in the enterprise and sacrificed a lot to make it grow,” says Mihigo.
He says they are also constantly innovating and looking for new ways to serve customers better.
“For any business to thrive in this modern world, it is paramount to provide unique services.
Besides, if we don’t innovate, we will be left behind since the ICT sector is continuously changing and creating new products,” Bizwinumutima says. He adds that they have to make sure that they keep with trends of emerging technologies, arguing that innovation plays a big role in marketing the business and attracting new customers.
Many technicians accept jobs but delay to repair or cheat clients. “If you delay to work on a customer’s equipment, you are more likely to lose them. So we try to avoid this as it is not good for business.”
They have also invested in acquiring good customer care skills to ensure that whoever comes to their workshop returns, and recommends the workshop to friends.
Despite the success, the two young entrepreneurs face some challenges, including lack of enough working, which they say affects service delivery. Increasing of house rent by landlords without prior notice also hurts the business, as well as lack ICT and electronic spares in Rwanda. Nevertheless, the two say they have started working with banks financial to meet the funding needs, and only the sky could be the limit for them.