Local Social Enterprises Key to Bridge Gaps in Africa
Growing up in Burundi, Henri Nyakarundi had a dream… run as far as he could from what his young mind thought were dearth of opportunities. So, right after his high school he made way to the United States and pursued his higher education in Computer Science. He tried his hand at multiples work stints, including owning a trucking business and tasted some success too! Yet living it up seemed a distant dream. After spending 17 years abroad, he dreamt of a new dream… to come back home.
With all his savings, Henri founded ARED Group, a social entrepreneurship delivering “business in a box” in Kigali, Rwanda in 2009. He started operating a solar kiosk that provided application, and software platform that offered Internet WIFI; intranet solutions for offline users; and phone charging services. “I noticed that most Rwandan companies were focusing on providing digital services for urban areas, yet rural areas were neglected. There was a deficit in the efficient distribution of digital services and access to low-cost connectivity in low-income areas. Some people had to walk miles just to get basic services; we knew there was a need. I saw an opportunity to narrow the gap to access digital services including government services and connectivity in those areas”, says Henri. The social enterprise provides last mile digital connectivity through prepaid services. The solar kiosk uses 100% renewable energy that also provides airtime, mobile money, prepaid electricity, and tax payment services through its application.
Thanks to Al Jazeera English for this wonderful documentation about ARED! For more information click following Link: www.bit.ly/shirikihub #shirikihubGepostet von ARED GROUP LTD am Dienstag, 7. Februar 2017
It was not easy moving back and adapting to the business environment in Africa. The lack of basic amenities and infrastructure threw opportunities for his enterprise. Yet setting up was riddled with unforeseen challenges. An unfavourable tax regime for start-ups popped its head as a daunting task. Though neighbouring east African countries are socially and economically akin, yet starting and even thinking about branching out came with unseen barriers. A fragmented African business ecosystem blocked these possibilities. Raising money also was not easy. Yet, it was his hardwork, dedication and the ability to keep pushing himself that has kept his enterprise going.
Having faced with similar issues Henri is cognizant of the ground realities that hold back enthusiastic youngsters from following their entrepreneurial dreams to tackle issues that plague their societies. Along with running his enterprise, he has also taken up the role of a mentor and motivational speaker. He feels a sense of responsibility to support promising African minds to looks at opportunities around them and not chase illusions as he did as a teenager.