‘Fear stifling entrepreneurial spirit’

Many business ideas never go beyond the conceptual stage because some innovators fear to take risks. Limited access to credit compounds the problem, said Saul Garlick, the founder and chief executive officer Think Impact Company, a US–based international NGO.
Some of the entrepreneurs who are contesting for the Real Fina Bank Entrepreneurship Award 2013 listen to a colleague as she narrates her experience as a young businesswoman. The New Times/Courtesy
Some of the entrepreneurs who are contesting for the Real Fina Bank Entrepreneurship Award 2013 listen to a colleague as she narrates her experience as a young businesswoman. The New Times/Courtesy

Many business ideas never go beyond the conceptual stage because some innovators fear to take risks. Limited access to credit compounds the problem, said Saul Garlick, the founder and chief executive officer Think Impact Company, a US–based international NGO.

“The entrepreneurship spirit is being compromised by the fear to take business risks,” Garlick said during the launch of the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Kigali on Monday.

He, however, stressed that people need to understand that entrepreneurship is not all about access to credit. 

“Don’t look for loans if you don’t know how to manage finance; money is for business expansion and not to start businesses. It is advisable that entrepreneurs first concretise their ideas before going to banks for credit,” he said. 

He also noted that lack of innovation compromises the performance of any economy. 

Rwanda is promoting entrepreneurship, especially among the youth, through the technical and vocational education training (TVET) programme. The government also hopes that the programme will help augment Rwanda’s effort to become a self-reliant economy. The country also targets annual growth of 11.5 per cent and creation of 200,000 off-farm jobs.

Speaking at the same event, Isaac Kwaku Fokuo, the African Leadership Network chief executive officer, called for more funding to productive sectors of the economy to help create the much-needed jobs for the youth.

Livingstone Nkusi, a senior development officer in charge of small-and-medium enterprises at the Rwanda Development Board, said the government is reviewing laws to create a more enabling environment for entrepreneurship to flourish.

Rwanda is marking the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week with a number of activities, including business competitions and entrepreneurship talk shows.

As part of the activities, Educat, an entrepreneurship support not-for-profit organisation, and partners are providing intensive training, mentoring and coaching to 10 selected youth to kick-start their businesses and get the chance to become Rwanda’s next top entrepreneurs. The 10 will also compete for the Real Fina Bank Entrepreneurship Award 2013. 

The award, organised by Educat, is sponsored by Fina Bank and KLM Airlines. The winner will receive a Rwf4m cash prize from Fina Bank, and an air ticket from KLM Airlines for a trip that will benefit their business. 

Andreas Noerlem Christensen, the Educat chief executive officer, stated: “These 10 entrepreneurs have high potential ...we are thrilled to work with change-makers of this calibre. That is also why we will continue to work closely with them even after this award, at least for the next six months. They are the future of Rwanda.”

The 10 finalists represent various business sectors, ranging from agriculture and food processing to fashion and ICT. 

Their business projects will be assessed on business concept, scalability, entrepreneurial DNA and bigger impact.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job-creators, who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.

It was launched in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship around the world and is marked in 125 countries, where millions of people participate every year.

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