Tell me, show me, involve me…

Think of a journey, any journey. There must be a vision; an idea about the journey. Then there must be a roadmap; a starting point and an end point and how to get there. But most critically, the journey must be made!  You must undertake to move from Kigali to Butare to be a voyager. Excellent theoretical knowledge, however detailed and /or scientific, of the Kigali- Butare route is really not anything to write home about. It is the same with entrepreneurship, in whatever form.
Sam Kebongo
Sam Kebongo

Think of a journey, any journey. There must be a vision; an idea about the journey. Then there must be a roadmap; a starting point and an end point and how to get there.

But most critically, the journey must be made!  You must undertake to move from Kigali to Butare to be a voyager. Excellent theoretical knowledge, however detailed and /or scientific, of the Kigali- Butare route is really not anything to write home about. It is the same with entrepreneurship, in whatever form.

In its original French meaning, the entrepreneur is the one who undertakes- who does. At the turn of the 19th century, French economist, Jean Baptiste Say summed it up thus; ‘entrepreneur is the one who shifts economic resources out of an area of lower into an area of higher productivity and greater yield’. In other words entrepreneurs create value. More recently, management guru Peter Drucker has described an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship as one who searches for change responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity. Entrepreneurs see opportunities rather than problems created by change. Now, change is one thing we have in plenty in the modern world.

 We did quite a bit of work on the vision and idea part of entrepreneurship during the Global Entrepreneurship Week. I know that we were successful because I have noticed some of my friends who, hitherto described themselves otherwise, have added various variations of entrepreneurship versions to their self-descriptions. So, on to the journey/ process/action bit of the story!

But I don’t have capital! This is always comes up at about this point. Fine; but how much are we talking about? Unless you go through the next step, you are talking hot air!

You see, the Kigali-Butare journey will only happen when we put some actions into place. We must figure out how we are going; by bus, car, bike or we could just walk. The action; get into the bus or car, hop onto the bike or start walking! Then, and only then, will the journey have begun.

Individually, you have to start the business start up process; refine the business idea; identify your customers (target market), figure out the best way to produce the good/ service and to reach the customers, determine your projected revenues and expenses and profit and register the business. After this, you can do two things; see where you can find capital and two; you must figure out how to start small because unless you live in nirvana, you will never get all the money you need at once. Good news is that most of the time starting small does you a world of good.

For us who have been doing the talking, the task is bigger. We have just generated interest, a whole lot of interest in young people. How do we sustain it and grow it to fruition? Staying with  words only sounds preachy! And nothing (with due respect to preachers) puts off young people more!   It has to be fun! Just as we spoke together, we have to work in concert. We need to set up structures that will effectively nurture entrepreneurship in our institutions of learning (especially higher learning). More guidance, mentorship and hand holding is required. There are no short cuts and/or quick fixes on this. It can start small and the best way forward is a concerted effort (including the youth in every phase). We will have, and deed, already have business incubation centres that are only that by name. It is incumbent on us to be willing to walk the mile and not only do the right thing but also do things right.

Another thing there can never be too many business incubation centres, not until we have too many start ups! Procrastination is not an option either, this has to be done.

As the saying goes…tell me, I forget; show me, I remember, Involve me; I understand. After our nice speeches two weeks ago, this maxim should guide our actions forthwith.

This is what we are doing at RTUC.

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.

sam.kebongo@gmail.com

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