Teaching Entrepreneurship in Rwanda

Students from the Akilah Institute for Women with left to right: University of Scranton students Lindsay Ward, Alexandra Cognetti, and Donna Simpson of the University of Scranton SBDC.

I hope this summer was all that you imagined it would be even though it flew by.  I feel like I’ve been on a “blogcation” since it’s been ages since I blogged. Anyway, I spent the early part of the summer planning for a trip to Rwanda with The University of Scranton’s  Dr. Alan Brumagim, Lindsay Ward (Women’s Enterprise Center intern) and Alexandra Cognetti (SIFE member).  We spent nearly two weeks in Kigali, some of which was spent teaching Entrepreneurship with a focus on the Hospitality industry to students at the Akilah Institute for Women.

Dr. Brumagim, Alex, Lindsay and I presented programs on entrepreneurship, budgeting, leadership, communication skills, marketing and much more.  University students played an integral part of the training. Not only did they prepare and lead sessions, but they also led team activities meant to allow students time to have fun while learning. Further, University students were of an age that bonded well with the Akilah students. The Akilah students were warm and welcoming and by weeks end, we all had gained new friends and an experience that will last a lifetime.

Be sure to visit Akilah’s website at www.akilahinstitute.org. You’ll be impressed by the accomplishments the school has made in its young existence.  We attended Akilah’s first graduation ceremony which was attended by many Rwandan officials including Rwanda’s first lady, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame who assisted handing out diplomas to the graduates.

We had the opportunity to talk with other attendees, including Arlene Brown, founder of Hope Made Real, a fellow Pennsylvanian now living full-time in Rwanda.

During the Spring 2012 semester, Rwandan artist Emmanuel Nkuranga visited The University of Scranton. During his visit he spoke to the Entrepreneurship fundamentals class about doing business in Rwanda. While in Rwanda, Donna, Alex and Lindsay were able to meet with Emmanuel at Ivuka Arts.

Ivuka Arts not only houses artists, but also a cooperative of women genocide survivors. The women create many items for resale including jewelry, pottery, and much more.

We stayed at the Panorama Robero Guest House. I strongly recommend staying there should you visit Kigali, Rwanda. The accommodations were spacious and clean. The owner, Noel  Nsanzineza  and his family were there to serve our every need, from spotless rooms to helping us get around.  Here too, we made forever friendships.

Our trip to Rwanda was a success as well as one we will never forget.  I’ll be working hard this year to make sure we can take another group of Scranton students to share our knowledge with these young, inspirational women.

Donna J. Simpson
Consultant Manager
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

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About The University of Scranton SBDC

The University of Scranton SBDC provides no cost small business consulting services that are tailored to fit the needs of small business clients of Bradford, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne & Wyoming Counties. The center offers confidential individualized assistance designed to identify and address the problems of small business owners as well as individuals interested in establishing a business. The program is jointly funded by the US Small Business Administration, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and The University of Scranton.
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