Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Grow Movement consultant empowers Rwandan entrepreneur to start business with no capital and create 25 jobs in six months

Jean Claude with one of his rubbish trucks and team

Jeane Claude is a dynamic man. He wanted to start is own business and had a great idea. But he was frustrated. I was recently in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital and was astonished by the economic progress since my last visit in 2008. Rwanda’s economy has doubled in the intervening years and the city is not recognisable. Slums have been cleared and replaced by housing, modern office blocks are sprouting all over the place and, perhaps most dramatically, narrow potholed roads typical of many African cities have been replaced by brand new dual carriageways down avenues of neatly cut back trees. While extreme poverty still exists in Rwanda and the UN classifies it as a least developed country, the impact of this economic growth on poverty reduction has been phenomenal.

But most importantly for Jean Claude, you don’t see rubbish anywhere. Which means to keep the city this clean, there is huge demand for rubbish collection. This was his business idea. He put together a solid business plan for rubbish collection and started pitching to banks to fund it. But with no established business no one would provide finance and when Grow Movement’s Rwanda manager Violet Busingye started working with him he was frustrated.

Jean Claude with Violet Busingye, Grow Rwanda Manager
Violet connected Jean Claude with Takudzwa Kufa, a Grow Volunteer Consultant from Zimbabwe (living in the UK) and they want back over the key elements of the business plan, working over mobile phone and email. While doing this they discussed a key aspect of the rubbish collection market: In Kigali you apply for a permit for rubbish collection in a particular district from the local authorities. When you have this permit every resident must pay you a fee to collect rubbish- in advance! Takudzwa pointed out that Jean Claude could use this fee to finance his business, and he did not actually need a loan. All he had to do was get the permit, collect the fees, and use them to immediately rent a truck, pick up the rubbish and take it to the landfill.

Wonderfully this was exactly what happened and Jean Claude used this critical idea to start his business immediately: Thanks to his remarkable dynamism, six months later he had rapidly expanded his business to five full time employees and twenty temporary workers collecting rubbish and making a profit. You can see Jean Claude talking about his remarkable achievement from his work with Takudzwa in the video above.

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