New Korean firm to share profits with communities

Not many a business opens shop with a view to using part of its profits to benefit community causes. Such enterprises, which operate under the social marketing concept, are not common in Rwanda. Most companies want to make as much profits as possible and pocket the whole of it. 
Some of the guests at the opening of the coffee shop serve themselves eats. The New Times / Collins Mwai
Some of the guests at the opening of the coffee shop serve themselves eats. The New Times / Collins Mwai

Not many a business opens shop with a view to using part of its profits to benefit community causes. Such enterprises, which operate under the social marketing concept, are not common in Rwanda. Most companies want to make as much profits as possible and pocket the whole of it. 

This trend could change with the opening of RZ Manna, a South Korean-run company that made its debut in the local services sector by opening a $250,000 (about Rwf167.5m) coffee shop and modern bakery in Nyarutarama, Kigali.

Noh Kisool, the firm’s vice-president, explained that they will be investing some of their profits in selected charitable initiatives in Rwanda with an emphasis on sanitation projects.

“Other than job-creation and buying locally-made materials and foodstuffs, we will invest part of our profits in charitable projects like provision of sanitation facilities to school children,” Noh said.

He noted that the firm has already supported such projects in two primary schools in Kamonyi District.

RZ Manna is run by nine South Korean partners and close to 30 Rwandan staff. It operates under the supervision of KOICA (Korea International Co-operation Agency) and Handgong Global University, which contributed part of the start-up capital, Noh said.

Ji Yoon Shin, one of the founding partners, said they were encouraged by Rwanda “good investment climate”.

“We studied a number of African countries for possible investment, but Rwanda appealed to us because of the transparency of the government and security,” Shin explained.

He said they aim at changing the quality of service provision in the country.

“We have assessed the quality of service provided by other cafes and bakeries...there is still much to be done. We have trained our staff and are confident we will provide quality services to improve the sector,” Shin said.

Shin added that they are aware of cases of exploitation of employees by some foreign investors, but assured Rwandans of professionalism.

“Some employers are known to overwork and underpay employees, our ethic code doesn’t allow that.”

Hwang Shin, an official from KOICA, said they were happy to work with RZ Manna, especially in investing in charitable projects in the country.

“I encourage other businesses not to focus on making profits alone, but also improving the lives of Rwandans,” Shin said. 

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