Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, better known as Mother Teresa is not remembered as a business advisor. She quipped; ‘you can do what I cannot do and you can do what I cannot do, together we can do great things’. She, unwittingly, could not have outlined the importance networking better.
This socio economic activity is akin moving from playing one instrument (or worse, trying to play all instruments alone) to conducting an orchestra. The following local examples demonstrate this.
Linkage: Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC), in conjunction with Private Sector Federation (PSF) will send 35 tourism and hospitality students to Kenya for internship. Another 200 plus will be placed in locally.
This is the first fruit of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently signed between these two institutions. In this case RTUC has students that need the exposure that prepares them better for industry.
Their experience is useful. It enables the university to design more relevant and grounded modules for the markets and the employers get to benefit from free/cheap labor from the student (they will be performing tasks given to entry level employees) with an option of getting quality employees as this is the best form of interview.
Indeed figures show that over 60% of interns are absorbed in Rwanda’s job market. Hospitality industry, the private sector (which PSF represents) and the economy all benefit in numerous ways. It is what the Americans call a ‘win-win situation. Yet this is only but one linkage, one connection.
Network: A combination of linkages makes a network. Back to RTUC example; we have also signed and are indeed signing up other MoU’s with relevant partners. Kenya Airways, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), King Faisal Hospital, Rwandair, TPS Serena, Bank of Kigali, among others are on board with regard to this. In addition we are members of relevant associations. The combination of these linkages makes a network.
But, in the first place, why bother have such an understanding in place? As Stephen Covey says in ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, independence is great but power is in interdependence. Even nature demonstrates this.
Even in the jungle, the most powerful animals are those that live and work in groups; be they prides, packs, herds or swarms. A lone buffalo is no match for a pride of lions. Likewise, the decision of a lone lion to take on a heard of buffaloes is often neither productive, safe nor wise. Nations give us the same example.
Each of the East African Community member countries is doing so much better than they would do otherwise. Despite the Eurozone crisis, European Union is still a much more viable option for Europe. Otherwise, we’d hear of countries leaving not non-members clamoring to join up (as is the case too, with EAC).
Networking: Linkages and networks are useless if you are not effective and productive. We in RTUC will constantly seek productive ways of utilizing these associations. These collaborations will make RTUC more effective in not only academic affairs but also research, consultancy and community service; the other missions of university education.
Small business owners can get themselves into the big league by forming effective and working partnerships with customers, employees, suppliers, creditors, and mentors among others at the firm (micro level) and with peers, Industry, government, development partners, academia, informal sector and the macro level.
The matrix of connections that linkages and networks and the relationships resulting thereof are crucial building blocks to the development of the business (firm level), various economic sectors not only in Rwanda but also the region at large.
This is truly the most sensible way to dare crucial to the development of that we seek. It is the most developed way to develop.
The issues involved in networking are long term vision, patience and integrity. Reputation is very important. It could difficult but keep the faith, as Mother Teresa says- faith keeps one who keeps faith.
Sam Kebongo teaches entrepreneurship at Rwanda Tourism University College.
He also is a Director at Serian Ltd that provides skills and business advisory services consultancy.Follow https://twitter.com/SamKebongo