To celebrate the achievements of the Social Enterprise Rwanda programme, funded by the Quintin Hogg Trust, participating students and supporters were invited to attend a celebratory reception on Wednesday 7 November at Marylebone Campus. 

The Guest of Honour was Her Excellency Yamina Karitanyi, the Rwanda High Commissioner to the UK, who delivered a keynote address and congratulated the participating students on their achievements.

Talking about the importance of building entrepreneurial capabilities in Rwanda in her speech, she said: “You have opened your minds to match the opportunities on a global level, and I’m glad you chose Rwanda to do that.”

Other speakers included Darrell Kofkin, Project Director and Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Entrepreneurship,  Deborah Rose, Head of Content Development for the Project and Visiting Lecturer in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, and Professor Malcolm Kirkup, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of the Westminster Business School, who delivered the opening and closing remarks. Along with Her Excellency, Professor Kirkup also presented certificates to those who participated in and completed the programme.

Highlighting that transforming lives is one of Westminster’s core purposes, he said: “Students have developed new knowledge, new skills, a new mindset, but they have also developed lasting relationships with people in Rwanda.”

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Three of the participating students, Jan Jerabek, Fatima Abdi Mohamed, and Virginia Ciangherotti, who got their projects selected by the judging panel as those with best potential to be further developed into investment-ready plans, also delivered a speech talking about their own experiences in the programme. Virginia, an International Business and Arabic student who has developed with her Rwandan colleagues a concept called Ikirunga Beauty, said: “This project was a life-learning experience. The lessons I have learnt from it go beyond academia and expand onto the spectrum of human life. Going forward, our ambition is to see this project grow to be one of the first ‘Made in Rwanda’ gems.”

There was an additional expression of thanks and support from Livingstone Nkuusi, Head of Branches at Business Development Fund, and Malaika Ilibagiza Rousseau, Fund Mobilization Officer at the Development Bank of Rwanda, key partners in the project. Along with the Westminster project team, they will continue to mentor the top two teams to enable their ideas to be turned into investment-ready business plans. 

Social Enterprise Rwanda
From left to right, Social Enterprise Rwanda senior team: Naomi Oiku, Deborah Rose, Lloyd Watson, Livingstone Nkuusi, Darrell Kofkin, HE Yamina Karitanyi, Professor Malcolm Kirkup, Irene Brew-Riverson and Malaika Ilibagiza Rousseau

Talking about the importance of diversity for enriching the experience of the programme in his opening speech, Darrell Kofkin said: “We’ve been through a lot together to achieve a lot together. We felt it was important to develop a project that was transformative to our students but also develop something beyond the classroom, beyond the lifetime of the programme, that created sustainable impact in Rwanda in support of the Government of Rwanda’s job creation and poverty reduction policies. We have learnt a great deal from this inaugural programme to help support enterprise development both in Rwanda and within the university.”

The evening also saw the premiere of the Smoke Media film and radio documentaries that were produced during the project by five selected students who represented Smoke Radio and TV during the project and who captured key moments and experiences. The event closed with a buffet dinner reception where attendees had the chance to network with each other.

The Social Enterprise Rwanda programme was a unique collaboration between the University of Westminster and the University of Rwanda that saw students from both universities work together in developing social enterprise ideas for Rwanda. They met in a nine-day social enterprise and cultural retreat in Rwanda in April 2018, after months of virtual planning and discussion.

Find out more about the Social Enterprise Rwanda programme.

Cover image: Students who participated and completed the programme. All pictures were taken by Joanne O'Brien.

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