Rwanda and Italian entrepreneurs discuss business to business exchange for private sector engagement

Kigali, Rwanda -10th June 2020 with 280 registered participants the second webinar , a dialogue that attracted a vast interest across many industries with participants from across the globe representing several sectors. It was a successful second business to business knowledge exchange webinar. Having discussed the institutional arrangements in both Rwanda and Italy, the first webinar introduced the key institutions that provide support to both countries that lead to the discussion of the second webinar to identify concrete opportunities of partnerships and collaborations between entrepreneurs.

One of the objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Climate Change Vulnerability, Risk Assessment, Adaptation and Mitigation between the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) and the Ministry of Environment (MoE) is to facilitate the engagement of the Private sector. Aiming at green technology transfers between Italian and Rwandan companies , GGGI in collaboration with REMA and PSF had started with the mapping of Private sector stakeholders and Italian companies established in Rwanda to inform preparation of B2B exchanges and planning capacity building activities in the form of knowledge sharing and study exchanges. The Global Green Growth Institute is working on specific outputs as part of the contribution agreement to support Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in developing a database and connecting entrepreneurs from both Rwanda and Italy through the business to business engagement of the Italian private sector to enhance green investment and trade.

The second webinar targeted all major stakeholders who have a key role in green private sector engagement in Italy and Rwanda such as institutions, entrepreneurs, investors, and developers. While in consultation with REMA and Private Sector Federation (PSF) and taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic specific areas of intervention were identified to deliver green growth solutions, such areas include:

1. Energy: hydro-power, solar, peat, LPG
2. Health care: infrastructures, equipment for hospitals, machines.
3. Agriculture and food processing: equipment and technology for farming, irrigation; equipment for transformation of agricultural product and dairy products (cheese).
4. Eco-tourism and hospitality
5. Sustainable packaging for food and other products.
6. ICT/services
7. Wood: machines for transformation and production of furniture
8. Sustainable textile: technology and transfer of know-how for transformation of raw material and production of garments
9. E-mobility: e-buses and natural gas buses; e-motorbikes
10. Hospitality: transfer of know-how for improvement of skills and services
11. Fashion and design: training
12. Green-buildings: sustainable material and technology
13. Sustainable tourism: investments and transfer of know-how

The first webinar stated there are many opportunities for investments in the green economy in Rwanda. Alessandro Enginoli, President of the Small Industry – Assolombarda said “this is a very important step for collaboration between Italy and Rwanda, after several bilaterals between the two countries in March this year the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) were ready to come to Rwanda before lockdown. Assolombarda is one of the  largest association in Italy , a conglomerate of 7000 companies  and as president of Small Industries we work with 4500 companies that are  a perfect mix for variety of businesses as Italy is know for its high concentration of small business.”

In his opening remarks  the Director of Operations at Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) ,Mr. Yosam Kiiza said “we are grateful to this platform and to be able to contribute to both PSF  and support the  business engagement to all PSF members. Investing in Rwanda is an opportunity to export to other countries and Great Lakes region in the EAC community with over 100 mill people. PSF is keen on investments that will focus on activities to deliver on green growth solutions in public health, air quality and many more and creating sustainable jobs in vulnerable sectors such as tourism, transport , energy and manufacturing agriculture. This purpose of  this B2B is explore and promote Rwanda potential investment climate ; create business match making between Italy and Rwanda in the most important economic areas. Therefore I urge our members to use the good contacts from counterparts for the growth and development of your business.”

Giovanni Davite, Co-owner and Executive Director of Kipharma and Agrotech Group whose family moved to Rwanda in 1966 gave his perspective as an Italian working in Rwanda saying that “Rwanda is a stable country that attracts investors with its fast growing economy ;good infrastructure and good climate. He added opportunities are vast for investors by mentioning sectors such as eco-tourism, agriculture , ICT , mining and manufacturing (and by including Rwanda’s neighboring countries). He gave additional advise on how to succeed in Rwanda stating Rwanda has a clear vision and change and adaptation is at the countrys core. Rwanda has an  impressive record for development and  that should be seen as an opportunity for all investors ;he added entrepreneurs need to remain positive to persevere; and always obey the law.

Absolute Energy

Several presentations followed by Alberto Pisanti of Absolute Energy who is involved in the renewable energy sector ; Robert Bayigamba, Head of Manumetal Ltd. Spoke about the wood industry he mentioned that the sector has created over 28,000 jobs in manufacture of wood products and furniture by over 2,200 SMEs in the wood sector.
Gasasira, Managing Director YAK Fair Trade Ltd said agribusiness is considered an essential business during COVID-19 . Small holder farmers and the importation of food to neighboring countries was being monitored under strict health regulations.  Marco Gualtieri, Founder of Seeds and Chips ; Janvier ; Gabos Roberto, Sales manager Desmet Ballestra S.P.A. and Giancarlo Tomelleri and Ermes Bampa, Nursery Group all represented the Agri business and food industry. In the Construction industry Mr. Vicky Murabukirwa, Senior partner Duval Great Lakes Ltd gave an attractive presentation on the upcoming mall and complex that will incorporate green buildings and green technology. In sustainable tourism Mr Daniele Kihlgren, President of Group Sextantio-DOM and
Diane Mukasahaha, Chairperson Apparel Manufacturing Group Ltd (AMG Ltd a group of 40 companies Ltd represented the textile sector. Ms Mukasahaha applauded the textile sector success stating that in one year AMG managed to hire 500 employees. She said “previously in Rwanda we used to import second hand clothing and then the government of Rwanda banned any importation of second hand clothing  encouraging local designers to work on their brands with good quality garments”

The Ambassador of Italy to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi   H.E Massimiliano Mazzanti congratulated Italian entrepreneurs who respect the rule of law in Rwanda and  by involving and going through the embassy before developing  partnership and investments in Rwanda as good governance which is something not many will do.

Deputy Director General: Faustin Munyazikwiye gave his closing remarks thanking the entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Italy that inspire business community in Rwanda, he added that this webinar has triggered ventures in green investment in Rwanda. He thanked GGGI who have been instrumental in coordinating this exercise and seeing it yield results, he also thanked all participants that joined and their interests in investing in both countries. He added that  “this webinar is the beginning for sharing experiences and we hope to see more investors partnering with entrepreneurs in Rwanda. When investing in agriculture and energy you are investing in the development of  a country and we need to learn to shift from business as usual but focus on green investment that will help implemented the recently submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and Rwanda’s Vision 2050.”

Post the business to business webinars the entrepreneurs , investors, developers, institutions , development partners and more will commence with bilaterals, as GGGI and REMA develop a database that will formulate stakeholder mapping for business to business match-making. This exercise will allow the next steps for participants to engage on more proactive and practical solutions for both countries investment opportunities.