I used to think that Rwandans are just backward in their thinking, that we would have to reprogram them with new knowledge before they can make a difference on the global market.
Sadly I often see that even the ones who are reprogrammed still keep such a small scale of thinking that it nullifies any knowledge they gain.
I was told of a Radio station manager who sold advertising airtime to a lady to sell her goods from Dubai, within days, her stock was finished and she wanted the advertising contract desolved.
Instead of going back to Dubai to get more stock, she was tired of customers pestering her number, she had made it!!
Even when Rwandans get a good business idea, they execute it so badly and on such a small-scale that it was a waste of time.
Like when I lived in Kimihurura there was a large expat and young professional’s community, a man used to do laundry from house to house, collecting clothes and returning them freshly-pressed, but he never tried expand the scale of his operation, he used the growth for food and other expenses.
He could have bought machines, and employed more people but that was as far as his imagination would go.
Rwandans are hostage to their imaginations, limited by walls of ignorance, fenced in by fear of the unknown.
Right now the biggest factor holding our economy back is lack of imagination and a myth that you have to have it handed to you on a platter in order to succeed.
The myth that unless you are politically connected you will never succeed, and yet very many entrepreneurs have no party affiliations, a Rwandan will always give you a million reasons for not trying something.
If there was true innovation and creativity here, no party or government would be able to stifle it.
At the heart of the essence of being Rwandan is a contradictory notion, that we are the center of the universe and yet we want to be isolated, God used to sleep here after all.
Most Rwandans have no idea of scale, what is enough or too much, we think good ideas but on a small-scale. It is not a matter of capital, or lack of ideas because a good idea pays for itself, it is a point-blank refusal to expand our scale of thinking.
I don’t know what we can do to change this aspect of our nature, not everyone has what it takes to be a good businessman, only 15% of people are entrepreneurial by nature and most of our business people are people with capital not ideas.
Right now we have the wrong 15% of people doing our business innovation, people with capital earned from other means but no idea how to use it.
That is what is holding us back, there is lack of innovation because of a lack of innovative people. You cannot make conservative people innovative because they cannot be, that is why every man’s wife opens a “Fanta Ikonje-Amata meza” boutique then they serve you with the most rotten disrespectful attitude.
Business is not for them, hand that capital over to someone with ideas. It is not enough to have the right scope of thinking, you must have the right scale.