Rwanda’s Future Billionaires

Towards a Knowledge-based Economy

FEW days ago, I engaged in a conversation with friends and we happened to ask ourselves the critical question of who is driving Rwanda’s economy into Vision 2020, in which we want to become a knowledge-based society and transform into a middle-income country.

Given that more than 70% of the Rwandan population are under the age of 35, I started working on a prediction list of young people, who are under 30, whom I believe will become millionaires, in dollars, in the next ten years.

In no particular order, I have listed below individuals who are working full-time in their business; who have been in their business for at least 2 years; they are self-made, not from heritage or succession of wealth; they are on the top of their industries, with reference to their age and the growth potential of their industry; and I have known them personally, have been in a position to critically analyse their work.

1 — Ysolde Shimwe and Kevine Kagirimpundu

I can bet these two young ladies will change our attitude towards buying Rwanda-made products. Since 2013, Kevine, 24, and Ysolde, 23, have worked hard to build fashion brand Uzuri K&Y, which now employs more than 15 people, has a workshop in Gikondo that produces tens of shoes, for both men and women, everyday. They’ve set the bar high and do not look for average results; they will surely make a lot of money out of this business.

2 — Prince Gashongore

At only 23, this young man has shown his talent and capacity in engineering. He’s among the very few local engineers that I know. Before joining University of Miyazaki in Japan, he customized the incubator to boost chicken farming using local materials. He describes himself as an “engineer by training and a maker by curiosity” and I believe he will rise to global stage in a decade to come.

3 — Samuel Ishimwe

A college drop-out, Samuel, now 23, spent one year at the University of Rwanda learning journalism and mass communication. He entered a film career in October 2011 and his debut film was “Paying Debts” which has earned him a couple of awards and recognition. He’s an impressive young filmmaker whose thinking is inspired by the masterminds of Hollywood and, through self-taught methods, he’s developed essential understanding of African culture, perhaps more than anyone in his peers. He’s currently doing a short course on film-making in Switzerland.

4 — Clarisse Iribagiza

Clarisse has been the face of the ongoing tech revolution in Rwanda since 2012. If not a millionaire (in dollars) already, she should be there very soon. At 27, her HeHe Labs company is now taking the lead in educating young programmers. Clarisse is a true visionary leader and an active member of the Global Shapers Community in Kigali, whose voice reaches far.

5 — Jean-Léon Iragena

Very ambitious, Iragena is a critical thinker and a real-life hustler equipped with academia skills in economic and mathematics. He’s the founder of Ubukungu and Isaro Foundation who started as an author then turned into a serial business entrepreneur. He is that kind of person who can do whatever necessary to achieve his goal. He’s 25.

6 — Patrick Buchana

A well-known speaker, and a regular contributor to the daily New Times, Patrick is now 24. This young man is smart; he only chases and closes big deals. He works hard and is, most of the times, business-oriented. He knows how to effectively explore and get the best from his wide network of connections. Recently, his tech company Air Clack Group initiated a digital payment system in public transport – the future.

7 — Didyne Hirwa

Unless you are very close to this young, genius scientist who combines extreme competency in both the world of science and businesses, you can’t imagine what he is doing next; because he is very quiet. A charismatic 28-year-old whose company, Umuti, Ltd., is working to educate and offer consultancy services in the field of pharmacy, Didyne is humble, informed and determined enough to make it to the top.

8 — Jean Bosco Nzeyimana

At 22, Jean-Bosco is probably the most connected person on my list. He has shook hands and exchanged with numerous leaders, including President Paul Kagame and, US President Barack Obama, and His Royal Highness Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom, as well as former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and Aliko Dangote. His business, Habona, is an energy firm investing in Bio-gas production, an environmental approach to save our planet and produce reliable energy.

9 — Malik Shaffy Lizinde

If you have been in Kigali for the past year, you have heard of Chap Chap, the fast food based in Nyamirambo. This is a promising business, perhaps the next McDonald of Kigali. Malik, 28, is multi-talented person with competency in creative design. His personality and business-driven attitudes will surely allow him to transform his businesses into billions.

10 — Christella Kwizera

The youngest of my list, at 21, she has already graduated from Oklahoma Christian university and runs a social enterprise called Water Access Rwanda, which aims at facilitating Rwandans to access clean water and have good sanitation. She is one the few very competent ladies I have ever meet, combining engineering skills with business understanding.

RWANDA has many young, vibrant entrepreneurs who are driving change. I also acknowledge the efforts of people like Marcel Mutsindashyaka of Umuseke IT and Christian Ikuzwe of Academic Bridge, among others. There are also some who have most probably banked a million dollars already – most of whom are already in their 30s; these include Meilleur Murindabigwi of IGIHE, Theo Gakire of SelectKalaos, Innocent Kaneza of ESCIA, Jean Niyotwagira of Torque and Louise-Antoine Muhire of Mergims.

They are all transforming this country using technology and I believe in their visions.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or the publisher.

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