Students Today, Entrepreneurs Tomorrow

Spoken like a true entrepreneur, Ella-Stella Ishimwe is prepared to succeed.  Although she isn’t yet a CEO or a business owner or a manager, Ella-Stella will graduate from the Akilah Institute Entrepreneurship program next year, enabling her to be Rwanda’s next great entrepreneur.

“Whenever I want to succeed, I first of all have to set my mind to it, no matter what the challenges and barriers may be.  I just need good strategies to reach where I want to be and learn from mistakes.”

-Ella-Stella Ishimwe ‘16

And as Ella-Stella begins building on the Akilah framework, she won’t be without the support needed to face the challenges of becoming an internet titan.  Ella-Stella hopes to create websites for sale and start an online business, and she has a plan.  “Since my dream is big, I have broken it into small, achievable and realistic steps.  One of those steps is to work in an economic institute in order to get much more experience and connections.”  And thanks to UK firm Alquity Investments’ generous launch of the Akilah Entrepreneurship Fund this year, students like Ella-Stella will have the opportunity to compete for start-up funding to do just that.

The Fund is open to Entrepreneurship students in their third year who may compete for up to $2,750 in financial backing for innovative business ideas. Judging criteria includes clarity, scalability, feasibility, and impact potential of proposals.  While the stakes are high, this type of competition isn’t new to Akilah students.

The three year Entrepreneurship program enables students to become more than just proficient in entrepreneurship and business management.  One such project allows students to participate in small-scale competitions similar to Alquity’s Fund, applying for $150 to execute their business plans over the course of eight weeks.  Sakina Usengimana ‘17, won the pitch competition alongside seven of her classmates and successfully launched a business selling jewelry, a venture that continues to return on investments.  In fact, at the end of the school year, the class business had ended but her team had made the most money, taking home roughly $75 in profits.  Now, Sakina is looking to partner with a local gallery and art studio to sell her jewelry.

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Sakina Usengimana ‘17, selling her jewelry designs

The Akilah Entrepreneurship Fund allows students like Sakina and Ella-Stella to take the business management skills learned at Akilah beyond the confines of the classroom.  With support from Alquity, students will be thoroughly prepared with an entrepreneurial mindset to establish their own ventures and succeed at every level.

The first round of winners will be announced this month, so stay tuned as we share updates on this exciting opportunity for our students!

UPDATE: Akilah hosted the 1st Annual AEF Business Plan Competition on Saturday, July 11. 6 groups of Akilah Entrepreneurship students presented their innovative business plans. The 4 winners from the competition are as follows:

1st place: Peace Restaurant by Esther and Julianne, awarded: 2,000,000 RWF (~$2500)
2nd: KU Social Enterprise by Fancine and Jane, awarded: 1,500,000 RWF (~$2000)
3rd: Good Life Bakery by Eliano, awarded: 700,000 RWF (~$1000)
4th: Ikaze Shop by Ancille, awarded: 300,000 RWF (~$500)

Congratulations to all of our students, and thank you to Alquity Investments for generously launching this competition for our students!