Rwanda’s Global Entrepreneurship Week Features Site Visits to Ashoka Fellows

  Ashoka will be hosting a “Social Entrepreneurship Safari” during Rwanda’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, from 12 to 18 November 2012. Ashoka’s Social Entrepreneurship Safari will include site visits with business, civil society and government leaders in Rwanda to four transformational social entrepreneurs Ashoka has identified in Rwanda—two of whom have already joined the global network of Ashoka Fellows.

The systems-changing solutions these men and women have developed address some of Rwanda’s most urgent social problems in four important fields— health and nutrition, women’s empowerment, dairy quality assurance and agriculture.

Julie Carney (Ashoka Fellow) tackles the problem of malnutrition in Rwanda by leveraging synergies between two sectors that have traditionally operated independently of each other—agriculture and healthcare. Her organization, Gardens for Health, is transforming healthcare centers so that they are able to provide agricultural extension services and psychosocial support to mothers affected by malnutrition, in addition to medical services.

Felicite Rwemarika (Ashoka Fellow) is engaging women in Rwanda in the typically male-dominated sport of football as a way to enable them to gain full social and economic citizenship. By participating in sports, they are making a statement about what women can and will insist on doing to improve their lives and develop their communities. Through her organization, Association of Kigali Women in Sports (AKWOS), Felicite has also influenced policy and structural reform in government to further entrench sports for women and girls in and outside of formal education institutions. She is now focused on turning the teams of women into farming cooperatives so they can start engaging in group agri-business.

David Mupenzi is boosting the productivity and competitiveness of Rwanda’s dairy sector by establishing the architecture for the promotion and application of regionally and nationally recognized quality standards of milk. His company, Dairy Quality Assurance Limited, has a lab based in Kigali that is providing milk testing services for collection centers and farmers at an incredibly low price that is less than 10% of the going market rate.

Nicholas Hitimana is creating a new agricultural value chain in Rwanda that will be more competitive and based on sound social and environmental principles. Through his company, Ikirezi, Nicholas has introduced a new, though indigenous, type of cash crop to commercial farming in Rwanda—essential oils, such as geranium, patchouli and lemon grass. These generate more revenue and are less expensive to transport than colonial cash crops. He is also teaching organic farming so farmers can earn a price premium. Since 2006, Ikirezi has worked with 300 farmers and plans to work with an additional 1,200 in the next three to five years.     

“The objective of Ashoka’s Social Entrepreneurship Safari is to create an opportunity for people and institutions interested in social entrepreneurship to see great examples in action as well as to meet, interact with and learn from Rwanda’s most inspiring and visionary systems-changing social entrepreneurs,” said Nassir Katuramu, the Venture Program Manager at Ashoka in East Africa.

For additional information about Ashoka’s Social Entrepreneurship Safari, please contact Carolien Vis at carolienvis@gmail.com or +250 784-269633.