Our trip to Rwanda has been filled with visits to different organizations in the hopes of gaining insight into how to introduce coffee tourism at Gitesi. These visits have included NGOs and government organizations, and have highlighted the positive effect partnerships can have on the growth of private enterprise in Rwanda.
On Friday, our team visited Educat, an NGO that helps entrepreneurs in developing nations gain access to capital and investors while simultaneously developing their businesses. We met with Anders, the Educat employee who has been helping Aime develop his current business model. Anders provided additional insight into Gitesi’s operations, including the dedicated nature of its owners. The more we learn about Aime and his father the more inspired we have become by their work ethic. It was also awesome to learn about Educat’s resources and how the organization is able to help its entrepreneurs; from literacy classes to marketing tutorials, Educat tries to provide a 360-degree business education to its clients. We were even invited to attend a networking session that evening with all of Educat’s Rwanda entrepreneurs.
We also got a chance to visit the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). The RDB is a government organization instituted to promote economic growth in the country and reach President Kagame’s Vision 2020 goals. Our visit at the RDB was fascinating; the organization’s tourism department serves as a free adviser for private companies who want to institute tourism development. Basically, for Aime this means coveted advice at no cost, a highly valuable asset for a small business owner. The RDB also provided us with additional contacts for Aime at various trade associations throughout Rwanda. It seems no matter where our group travels, Rwanda’s collaborative spirit is apparent. No wonder the country has achieved such remarkable growth in less than twenty years…
Last night we were reunited with Aime and his father over dinner at a Kigali restaurant. Despite the temporary rainstorm (which provided plenty of laughs) we were able to catch up about our project and learn more about Aime and his father’s lives, including their additional careers in politics and law (yes, they are pretty incredible and accomplished). I asked Aime at one point what he likes most about working in coffee. His response, “when people tell me they like my coffee I know I am making them happy. I like making people happy.” While our trip is coming to an end in a few days, I hope we all are able to take some of his contagious attitude with us.