Most new businesses collapse before their third birthday, with mortality rate especially high among small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) at over 60 per cent. The reasons for this state of affairs is attributed to mainly lack of business management and entrepreneurship skills and low funding, among others.
It is challenges like lack of business management and entrepreneurship skills, especially among women in business, that a new initiative by two local firms seeks to address.
Mireille Ineza Karera, group CEO and coach at KORA Coaching Group, said the Coaching and Business Academy, a project by a network of career women in Rwanda, aims at accelerating efforts geared at empowering business women in the country.
The initiative, a partnership between KORA Coaching Group and Career Women’s Network Kigali, also seeks to address skills gaps among corporate women to give them a competitive edge in the workplace. “The academy will enable women entrepreneurs to get the right business coaching and mentorship, as well as business management skills,” Karera said.
Karera added that skills development is central to efforts toward women economic empowerment. The expert observed that many women were relying on foreign business coaches previously, a situation that raises cost of doing business.
“Therefore, this is a big opportunity for Rwandan women with different kinds of business undertakings to access the necessary experts locally as they seek to improve themselves and enterprise performance,” Karera said during the launch of the academy recently.
In 2016, KORA organised the Global Women’s Summit in Rwanda in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank.
Though the business coaching industry is still young in Rwanda, it offers entrepreneurs immense opportunities and also contributes revenue to the economy, she added.
The coaching industry promotes job-creation and entrepreneurship. Business coaching industry adds over $11 billion revenue to the US economy annually, with an annual growth of 3.5 per cent, according to statistics.
A study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and International Coaches Federation (ICF) in 2016 shows that annual revenue from Africa’s coaching industry was just $73 million.
Empowering career women
Lucy Schalkwijk, the founder and chairperson of Career Women’s Network Kigali, said business coaching helps enterprises to become more competitive and sustainable.
She added that coaching also empowers women in different fields of the economy to become competitive in the labour market and be able to rise up the ladder in their given careers and industries. “It’s about improving the skills of women, enabling them to be competitive, a move that will ensure that they have more equal representation from the lower level cadres to the boardroom,” she said.
The academy targets local and regional markets, and is seen as one of the initiatives that will support the country’s ambition to become a top meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) destination.
“This will be achieved by providing supportive and tailor-made training offerings to sector players to improve their services and operations,” the officials said.
Schalkwijk added that the academy will contribute to the growth of the local coaching industry by training a “new breed of Rwandan professional coaches that can compete on the international market.”