Rwanda: Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs

THE onset of the East African Community has brought with it very interesting developments. There is more awareness of matters in the East African by the citizens of the region partly due to an increased interest and focus on the same. So much is the progress of the EAC that we now have EAC quarrels such as the one Tusker Project Fame (TPF) past winner, Alpha and the show's organisers.

For those not in the know; simply put TPF is an annual musical talent competition sponsored by the East African Breweries under its flagship brand Tusker. It is essentially a singing contest where auditions are carried out throughout the East African region and then a contest is put together on television and the winner gets cash prize a recording deal and of course fame. Rwanda's Alpha Rwirangira has won it twice but is now at loggerheads with the organisers of the event.

Without going into the details of the quarrel, this saga demonstrates something that should be a major concern for us when it comes to the nurture and development of talent; when does the support stop and the eaglet flies out of the nest to conquer the world. I'm sure Alpha's feelings are shared by winners of the various business plan competitions and all other talent/skill development competitions that there are the lack of follow up and support.

The pattern is always the same; we come in with great pomp: encouragement and support be it financial, resource person, technical advice, publicity and all for the period leading up to the competition's climax.

The hype reaches a fever pitch with a climax of a winner being announced. Go to these competitions; be it business plan competitions or TPF and the like and a keen eye will notice, with dismay, that the winners speak and act (and therefore think) like it is the end of a long arduous road.

It is, actually, only the end of a phase. There has to be more thought put into the 'what next' phase of things.

So "what next?" Back to Alpha and TPF let us start with Socrates' famous line; man is selfish by nature, Socrates is a man; therefore Socrates is selfish by nature. Both Alpha and the TPF organisers being human, must, to some extent be selfish by nature. Question is what is each party's interest in the show? To Alpha, obviously he wants to grow as an artiste and the TPF people want to grow their brand otherwise what would all the hype be for? Each party must understand the other party's interests.

The next question is; is there a way of fronting the other's interests after the climax? This is indeed, the bane of Alpha's quarrel with tiff with TPF. Interestingly, this is where the greatest opportunity for each party lies (as would be the case with the Business Plan competitions). Much as we are all inherently selfish, no one wants to be seen thus; it is revolting.

In the case of TPF, the front is growing musical talents in the region; very selfless and altruistic! So does it not make sense for them to show what talent they have grown? Look at it this way, Alpha is about the only one of the four or five winners of the competition who has shown real talent and focus after winning the competition. He has produced songs worth listening (and dancing) too. The others became radio presenters, got into a scandal or two or just 'disappeared into the woods'. The same happens to most winners of business plan competitions.

Back to Alpha and fellow winners; when does the eaglet grow out of the nest and fly to conquer the world?. When does the dependency stop? Would you still be a singer/entrepreneur if there was no TPF or Business Plan competition? You can still be because there are others out there, so how about it.

Each party here can better further its interests but incorporating the other party's interests; selfish selflessness. And the strategy should be to think and act long term with a plan B of independent action. Move from 'project' thinking to 'business' thinking.

As President Kagame says; there are no short cuts to success.


The New Times

Rwanda is nurturing young entreprenuers as economic recovery continues.