A select group of 120 Rwandan business leaders and 15 Canadians gathered on February 15th, 2012 at the beautiful Serena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss the ambitious plan that is being implemented to raise the people out of Rwanda and to transform the country into a middle-income economy, with a strong emphasis given to innovation and entrepreneurism. The “Made in Rwanda” Leadership Summit was hosted by Opportunity International Canada and The Wellspring Foundation for Education. The Summit proved to be an innovative think tank centered on the themes of leadership and the development of human capital.
Highlights of the day included a ground breaking announcement from Rwandan entrepreneur and coffee expert Arthur Karuletwa who, just 23 hours before speaking at the Leadership Summit, came to an agreement with Starbucks Coffee Company for the purchase of GeoCertify. GeoCertify is a pioneer in food traceability. Launched in 2007 to support Rwandan coffee farmers, GeoCertify provides full-scale solutions for the most complex and remote supply chains in the world. For consumers, this will offer new meaning to the phrase “know your farmer, know your food.”
“I’ve been fortunate to know Arthur for a few years now and to see him share in front of fellow Rwandan business leaders was inspiring,” said event co- organizer and Wellspring Executive Director Richard Taylor. “In a country that is desperate for Rwandan role models in the business sector it was powerful to have one of Rwanda’s own share and spur on the next generation of leaders.”
Other speakers included Opportunity International Canada CEO & Chairman, Bob Lawless; retired CEO & Chair McCormick & Company, a global leader in the manufacture, marketing and distribution of spices. Mr. Lawless asserted that human capital is the only capital and reminded the audience that they have the potential to become the business leaders that they aspire to be. Carter Crockett from Karisimbi Business Partners followed with an insider’s perspective on what it will take to grow Rwanda’s management capacity. Finally, Senior Agricultural Advisor for Opportunity International John Magnay looked at how we can unlock human capacity in Africa’s rural areas to move subsistence farmers to healthy vibrant cooperatives developing a strong business model in the agricultural sector.
“Rwanda is looking optimistically to the future, there is still a very raw pain that exists, but rather than holding back, the people of Rwanda are moving forward with new hope and determination.” Doris Olafsen, Executive Vice President of Opportunity International Canada and co-host for the Summit, said “the Summit accomplished what we had hoped. It connected the international community with the local entrepreneurs which provided a balanced perspective for what is possible by investing in their number one asset-human capital. Our vision in launching the Summit was that future events such as this would be coordinated in-country and that we might be invited back as guests, truly making the Leadership Summit a “Made in Rwanda” initiative.”
The Summit was hosted by Opportunity International Canada and The Wellspring Foundation for Education and with the support of the Stronger Together 2011 collaborative granting initiative of nine foundations and individuals in Canada who combined forces to invest in the strategic growth of nonprofit partnerships in Canada. Sponsors in Rwanda included the Development Board, Bridge2Rwanda, Private Sector Federation, Rwanda-Canada Chamber of Commerce, Urwego Opportunity Bank of Rwanda and Karisimbi Business Partners. Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast sent his personal greetings and endorsement to participants as well.
Learn more about the Summit, watch the speaker videos, and read more about the organizations involved at www.madeinrwanda.ca/summit.
About Opportunity International Canada
Founded in 1971, Opportunity International provides access to savings, small business loans, insurance and training to over 2.5 million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in more than 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbours and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit us at opportunityinternational.ca and join the conversation at facebook.com/opportunitycan.
About The Wellspring Foundation
The Wellspring Foundation for Education is a Christian organization working with Rwandans to empower a new generation of leaders through education that transforms lives. We believe education is a nation’s greatest resource and teachers are most essential to maximizing that resource and work to help them gain the creativity, principles, and capability necessary to positively impact their own communities and adapt to a changing world. Wellspring has established one of Rwanda’s best schools, trained nearly 600 teachers, improved 47 public schools, and supported a grassroots Association of Committed Teachers (ACT) to spread throughout the Country. Learn more at thewellspringfoundation.com or www.facebook.com/wellspringfoundation.