Adem Sanliturk is the Secretary General of the Rwanda Active Businessmen Association (RWABA), an association that is directly linked to Tuskon, a confederation of Turkish business men and industrialists.
The Association is currently involved in organising trade partnerships between Rwanda and Turkey. Sanliturk talked to Business Times’ Peterson Tumwebaze about the objectives of these trade missions and what Rwanda must do to attract foreign investors.
What were the core objectives behind the establishment of Rwanda Active business Association?
The idea to establish Rwanda Active Business men Association (RWABA) came in 2012 when President Paul Kagame visited Tuskon a confederation of Business men and Industrialists in Turkey. He believed just like we did that establishing a similar association in Rwanda under Tuskon’s umbrella was going to facilitate direct links between local investors in Rwanda with those in Turkey and their associates across the world.
The link would therefore be used as a platform where entrepreneurs from both sides would share business ideas; network and most importantly form business partnerships.
Rwanda’s political stability, and a good conducive business environment, further aided the initiative to establish the association.
The Association’s primary role was to attract Turkish investors into the country while facilitating Rwandan business men to trade with Turkey.
You are currently facilitating Rwandan business men to go to Turkey, what are you trying to achieve?
The whole idea is to try and expose Rwandan business men to international markets, investors and multi international companies so as to aid them in obtaining the expertise needed to grow their business.
It’s through these trade delegations that, local investors will have a clear understanding of international markets and foster business partnerships.
The number of Turkish investors in the country is still minimal, what should be done to attract more Turkish investors?
We are working around the clock to ensure that more and more investors from textile industry, construction, mining, agro processing and hospitality among many others come to the country.
Telling them that by establishing manufacturing plants here is one way of reducing the cost of doing trade and increasing profit margins among the two countries remains our priority.
However, trade between the two sides should start even before investors come here, both sides must get used to business environments surrounding them, products, in terms of quality and market shares before they can establish investments.
Government should also conduct more sector reforms to attract investors; we have seen this working in the energy sector where enormous reforms were conducted.
Reciprocating these reforms in other sectors of the economy will create the confidence foreign investors need before they can come.
Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2012 to facilitate the removal of trade barriers that exist between the two countries and Turkey is yet to wave all the trade barriers to allow more of Rwanda’s horticultural exports to penetrate Turkish markets.
You have been in the region for quite some time, how would you describe the region’s investment climate in regard to Rwanda’s quest for economic sustainability?
Rwanda’s middle class is becoming, more dynamic, vibrant and greatly impacting on the country’s market share which is good news in terms of attracting foreign investments.
Also investors are no longer seeing Rwanda as a single country but rather as a region with a great market potential for profitable business.
The country is no longer land locked but is land linked. We are telling investors that investing in Rwanda is actually expanding your wings to the rest of the region.
What is your long term strategy in Rwanda?
To try and attract more investors across all sectors in the country as we facilitate made in Rwanda products to penetrate the international market.