In September 2010, Babson partnered with the Rwandan Private Sector Federation and opened the doors of the Babson Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center (BREC) in the nation’s capital, Kigali. BREC is staffed by Fellows serving in a two-year term post-graduation from Babson’s undergraduate or graduate programs. Along with Babson alumni, students and staff, BREC joins with organizations within Rwanda, to pursue a variety of projects aimed at strengthening the country’s entrepreneurial environment.
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Global Entrepreneurship Week
Global Entrepreneurship Week/Rwanda worked with 45 partners who hosted 50 events to reach more than 7,000 participants. Since it’s inception GEW/Rwanda has brought together over 50 different partners for 75 events reaching nearly 20,000 people since 2011. Rwanda is the leading East African nation participating in GEW based on the number of partners and activities. BREC hopes to make the Rwandan campaign the brightest in all of Africa in terms of scope, VIP involvement, and innovations of our campaign and mission—creating a groundswell of activities that inspire and advance entrepreneurship in Rwanda. The additional aim is to demonstrate to the world how innovation and private enterprise are transforming the country for the better.
Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is supported by an impressive group of organizations and thought leaders from around the world. From the day it was launched with the help of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, GEW has enjoyed the participation of presidents and prime ministers on every continent, including: President Barack Obama (USA); Prime Minister David Cameron (UK); Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel); President Anibal Cavaco Silva (Portugal); Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Canada); Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegne, (Ethiopia); and numerous other world leaders in the private and public sector.
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Benebikira Sisters Partnership
The Benebikira Sisters have been working in Rwanda since 1919 to develop education and health care programs throughout the country. In recent years, they have turned to income-generating activities to help fund their important work.
When Sister Augusta, the order’s Chief Financial Officer, first walked into the BREC office, she had two clear needs: to help launch a bakery that supplied the cafeterias at their schools and guest houses, and to develop a financial plan to help refinance the loan taken out for their student dormitory in the university town of Butare.
After hearing about the history of the congregation, the perseverance of the Sisters, and the unrelenting and visionary drive of Sister Augusta, it was easy to offer support for the high-impact entrepreneurs. A team of Babson students assembled to work alongside Sister Augusta in addressing the issues she faced. The students visited the Benebikira operations. A few months later, Sister Augusta arrived in Boston, USA to study marketing and organizational behavior at Babson. Since that time, Sister Augusta has taken the skills she gained back to her order of 350 nuns and the 5,000 students who study in their schools. She also has deepened the ties between Babson and the Benebikira Sisters.
In May of 2012 a team of ten you women from Babson spent four weeks operating a summer school for Sister Augusta’s students in Save, Rwanda. The team taught courses in computer science, English and entrepreneurship during the day at Save and held evening workshops at the National University of Rwanda on topics such as technology, career development, entrepreneurship and business plan development.
BREC will partner with Babson’s Center for Women’s Leadership Program to send a team of 5-8 of Babson’s Women’s Leaders from across campus to Save, Rwanda for three weeks in the Summer of 2013 for the second year in a row to teach entrepreneurship, leadership and academic skills to 9th and 10th grade Rwandan students, conduct a women’s leadership seminar at the National University of Rwanda, work alongside aspiring and successful female entrepreneurs of Rwanda, and engage with women empowerment organizations all while getting the opportunity to explore the nation’s capital of Kigali and other unique Rwandan experiences.
Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy (BELA) in Rwanda
Babson students selected to participate in the Summer 2013 Babson Rwanda Project will experience a week of teaching entrepreneurial leadership skills with Babson alumni, parents and staff to high school students in Byimana, Rwanda. Preparation will begin in June 2013, with one Saturday meeting designed to provide both an overview of the culture and history of Rwanda and to prepare the team for the activities to be performed (from both an educational and practical training standpoint). The group traveling to Rwanda will leave on August 10th and return on August 18th. Learn more about the Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academies.
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