Dr. Josh Ruxin is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and Founder of Rwanda Works.
Dr. Ruxin's work focuses on comprehensive approaches to fighting poverty with emphasis on scaling up national health programs and investing in Rwanda’s private sector. He is based in Rwanda where he directs several initiatives including Rwanda Works and the Millennium Village Project.
Josh Ruxin: Well one of the amazing things about Rwanda these days is that it has a president, President Paul Kagame, who is considered the entrepreneurial president. He talks about entrepreneurialism all the time. He is constantly trying to create new opportunities for youth in the country as well as for entrepreneurs there by linking up with businesses in the west.
Recently I had the chance to actually work on a very small project, which was just to send four young, very promising students from Rwanda to real networks in Seattle where they spent a few months doing an internship with the hope being that they would go back to Rwanda and work at a technology firm there and share what they learned out there.
So in general since the genocide it has been a country which has been moving up in terms of the number of entrepreneurs and the number of new businesses, but they still have substantial challenges that remain before them. In particular when you are in a country where there are not great cutting edge businesses that have been exposed to the rest of the world they actually don’t have the systems or the management experience in place to compete.
Now that said the country has made some really impressive steps. It’s actually relatively easy to register a business. You can get a business registered probably in less than of a couple of days in Rwanda; that’s faster than in some developed countries. So that’s one of the positive aspects of being an entrepreneur there. On the downside it’s often very hard to find very good accountants and very good administrative staff just because they’re just coming out of the schools today and they’re starting to get more and more experience, so overall Rwanda is a good place to be an entrepreneur.
The market is relatively small, but Rwanda is connected very closely to several other countries. It shares a lot of borders of course with Uganda and with Tanzania and certainly with the Congo and Burundi and that means that if you want to do regional business Rwanda is a good place to do it and it’s just a matter of hitting on the right idea.
Recorded on: August 13, 2009