Get Global

Creating together

Our students tell us about their internship working with entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. To find out more about our global internship programme for Newcastle University Business School Stage 2 students, visit our website.

Week 1

Jia and Alex tell us about their first week

Jia

After spending 23 hours transiting in Amsterdam, I arrived in Kigali on Sunday night. I was getting a little anxious while waiting for my luggage because the last time I saw it was 2 days ago in Newcastle. After an hour or so, I finally got my luggage and headed straight to hostel with Charlotte.

Charlotte and I work for the Root Foundation in Kigali under the Ideas in Motion platform. Root Foundation is the leading grass-root organisation in child advocacy and street children’s personal development in Rwanda. Our work started promptly the next day and we were given a brief introduction into the charity as well as our tasks for the entire month here. We are mainly in charge of the management side of the operation including setting up a contact database of past, future, and current local and international contacts, updating the children’s database, and finding local and international fundraising opportunities. Patrick, the Director of Root Foundation employs a laissez-faire style of work environment as such we have plenty of freedom in terms of deciding what we want to achieve here. We were given a chance to visit the children at Root Foundation in the afternoon. Our visit was a complete surprise and the children improvised and showed us some traditional Rwandan drumming and dance.

It was an amazing experience as they were all so confident and talented! Now that we have a clear picture of the cause that we are working for, it has excited and motivated us to achieve as much as we can during our time here.

Alex

My first week in Rwanda, commonly known as the land of a thousand hills, has been a culture shock yet simultaneously extremely exciting. Immediately the country defied my expectations, mainly due to the corporate buildings currently being constructed around Kigali. More specifically, the contrast between these buildings and the numerous ‘slum’ areas that still exist in the city. The business that I’m working for, AgriGo, has also defied my expectations. As it consists of a team of highly educated and passionate individuals, I realised I was unaware of how extensive the education levels in Africa can be, especially in the field of technology. Seeing how passionate they are about the business made me excited from the offset. The first week has involved getting our heads around not just the overall idea of the business, but the operations, logistics and finances so that we can have an in-depth understanding and be as useful as possible throughout the internship. This included a trip to a farm to allow us to see Rwandan agriculture practices for ourselves, instead of just being told about it.

The main office that we work in is a small room with one large table and many chairs surrounding it. Although simple, it boasts a collaborative atmosphere as everyone can easily communicate with each other. We can also work in K-Lab, which is a modern, open space for IT entrepreneurs to collaborate and innovate in Kigali. This allows us to benefit from Kigali’s most modern facilities and give us the opportunity to communicate with like-minded people who are working on different technology related projects.

Going back to the culture shock, something I discovered at an early stage was the tendency for local individuals to be very slack with timings. This would involve arranging to meet at 9am, but our entrepreneur arriving at 10.30. As we discovered this at an early stage, it hasn’t become a problem and it allows us to continue our own research and work. In addition, the working style here seems to be much more laid back than what I’m used to in the UK, with employees wearing whatever they desire and working freely on their own projects at whatever time they wish.

Aside from work, we have taken advantage of many opportunities to explore our surrounding areas, particularly at night time. A favourite occasion of mine was on Monday night. Our entrepreneur met us in the early evening to show us around the city centre, including an underground fruit market, which was very interesting to see. In addition to this, most nights we explore a new area as we search for restaurants to have dinner. A personal favourite has been Kana Khazana. However, we learnt the hard way that one portion is way too much food for one person!

Week 2

Zack, Melissa and Charlotte tell us about their second week of their internship

As a group we had a jam packed weekend, on Saturday we visited Root Foundation where Charlotte and Jia work, this was by far one our favourite activities we’ve done so far in Kigali, we spent the morning watching the children perform traditional and modern African dancing, drumming and singing we also had the opportunity to spend time with them in smaller groups where some of us taught the young ones English (which they were already amazing at!) And others played games and got taught to play the drums. Truly an experience none of us will forget in a hurry.  We also visited the Genocide memorial which was a moving experience and one we all found extremely eye opening.

We all decided that Sundays are for relaxing so we have scouted out a pool at the Mille Collines hotel and spent the day there swimming and enjoying a delicious brunch!

Zack 

This week has been both intense and interesting, creating a report for a budding local entrepreneur who wants to set up a business in children’s clothing, my teammate Janny and I have created cash flows, outlined market reports and conducted field research. The local people and businesses have been very helpful and informative about the Rwandan textile market. Similarly our entrepreneur David has been great! He has given us the freedom to work where we find ourselves most productive and treats us as an integral part of their company.

I’d go as far to say that I now would consider consultancy as a career after being given such a real insight into the industry – I hope that the rest of the experience continues along the same path!

Melissa

Hi I’m Melissa, a stage 2 student studying International Business Management, it’s the end of our second week in Kigali and I can’t believe how at home I feel here, everyone has been so friendly and helpful that it’s made adapting the way of life here so much easier. I would be lying if I said however I adapted to the way of working here just as quickly,  the laid back and relaxed way of doing business here has been a cultural shock from the UK. I am working for a local NGO ‘Good News Rwanda’ I have had the privilege of being able to go and visit some of their projects, one in which gives genocide widows a livelihood and provides a constant supply of water to a rural community.

So far I have reviewed and restructured the management of one of the projects, learnt how NGO’s apply and successfully receive funding for projects and started planning a conference which will be held in Kigali next year, I have really enjoyed being given unusual tasks which have allowed me to explore an area I previously didn’t know much about,  I am definitely learning a lot!

I have had a truly eye opening experience so far and can’t wait to see what the next two weeks bring!

Charlotte

For the past two weeks, I have been working at Root Foundation with Jia in Kigali, Rwanda. Root Foundation is an organisation that aims to personally transform children’s lives through education, personal development and parent training. They achieve this by organising different activities each day at their centre as well as various field trips and events. They currently have 121 children registered at the centre between the ages of 6-23.

At work this week we have finished their contact database, started developing their website, researched into a new donating system, trained new volunteers and developed three new sponsorship programmes. The work has been very interesting and enjoyable! We are currently working in a café that Root Foundation have invested in which they hope to open in the next week. Working in a café in Africa is great fun as we have a constant flow of coffee but unfortunately the same can not always be said for the WiFi connection!

While we have not been working, we have had the opportunity to explore Kigali and everything the city offers, every night we find ourselves in a different restaurant and bar mingling with the locals and their culture!

This weekend we are going to hike up the volcano in the north-west of Rwanda and then we are going on a boat trip on Lake Kivu, I am very excited!

Week 3

Business School students tells us about their third week in Rwanda

Jia

Our third week in Rwanda began with a trip to the Volcanoes National Park followed by a visit to Lake Kivu near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were in for a surprise at 4 in the morning when our tour operator turned up in a 14-seater van for 17 of us. The 3-hour journey to the national park proved to be a challenging one as we were squeezed in. The surprise does not stop there as 2km before the volcano comes the rockiest road imaginable. Luckily after our “free roller-coaster ride”, we made it to the bottom of the volcano in one piece.

Mount Bisoke is an active volcano and it stands tall at 3,711 metres. Upon our arrival at the foot of the volcano, we realised how unprepared we were as other hikers were fully equipped with hiking gear. However, we were not going to let this put us off and thus began our 3 hour hike towards the summit. We were escorted by the military to ensure our safety due to its location bordering Congo as well as several sightings of gorillas, buffaloes, and even elephants within the region. The hike was fairly challenging but we all made it to the top in less than 3 hours! We were greeted by the impressive view of the crater lake at the top of the mountain. Follow by a quick descent to the bottom of the mountain, I “successfully” sprained my ankle at the entrance of the park after the debrief. Classic me!

After an eventful day, Charlotte and I then had to share a room that came with an ant nest in the shower. I felt rather exposed showering with a colony of ants, but Charlotte was quite comfortable with it (?!). We woke up to a beautiful view of the lake and headed there for a boat trip. Lake Kivu is the 6th largest lake in Africa and is filled with methane gas. The gas is extracted and then used to supply electricity across Rwanda.

On Monday, we began the week with a team meeting where we were allocated our tasks for the week. Last week, Charlotte and I created a sponsorship brochure and finished developing Root Foundation’s website. Our main tasks for this week consisted of organising their children’s database and updating the donating system. The new donation system successfully went live on 19th July. Exciting times ahead for Root Foundation!

Alex

Despite the initial culture shock, I have since been thoroughly enjoying my time in Kigali, and the intense yet rewarding workload that has come with it.

My main task has involved developing a business case for my company’s biggest partnership. To give a bit more context, I am working for a company called GO Ltd., which consists of two brand products, one which is called AgriGO. AgriGO is a described as a digital solution for the agriculture industry in Rwanda. It creates a digital ecosystem that brings together various stakeholders within agriculture and most importantly, empowers local farmers to maximise their yields. They do this by registering for the service on their mobile phones to receive a personalised service based on numerous factors such as their crop, so that they can apply best practices to their farming. Without this partnership with a leading telecoms operator, the service cannot be launched, so the pressure has been on to produce an exceptional piece of work!

Aside from work, this has been an exciting week to be in Kigali as the YouthConnekt Africa Summit was held, based on the theme ‘from potential to success.’ After a complex registration process, we retrieved our smart passes for the event. This allowed us to attend talks from influential leaders such as Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba group and the one which we were most excited about, President Paul Kagame. To our surprise, there was another guest who we had the pleasure of hearing from, popular hip-hop artist who brought solar electricity to millions of households in Africa Akon! One of the main reasons why I applied for this global opportunity was because of my interest in the state of developing economies. This summit was the perfect opportunity for me to discover how the Rwandan community are coming together to promote entrepreneurship, create jobs, enforce training in the workplace, develop sustainable initiatives and policies to reduce gender inequality and enhance their technological infrastructure to enable more partnership opportunities and promote innovation. It was an extremely exciting experience and one which I’m not going to forget anytime soon!

Week 4

Our students tell us about their final week in Rwanda. 

Charlotte

Our last week in Kigali has been another great week! After hearing Jack Ma and President Paul Kagame talk at the Convention Centre on Friday, we headed out to Sundowner to say farewell to our Italian friends who were leaving the next day. On Saturday we had a very lazy day and on Sunday we climbed Mount Kigali (which wasn’t much of a mountain!).

This week at work has been a little bit more chilled as we are handing over our work to a new volunteer at Root Foundation – York-Philip. At work we have made some final changes to the website, created and finished the sponsorship brochure to send out to our mailing list, requested an accountant and manager on the Idego website and started organising all the finances into the excel sheet to hand over to York. On Wednesday evening, we went to the Root Fellowship talk which is hosted by Root Foundation to help raise awareness of their foundation. We went to the ‘Listen to a Street Child’ talk, it was very interesting and moving. On Thursday, we went to an art gallery – Inema to have some goodbye drinks with Catalina (a girl we have lived with for a month).

It has been such an amazing month, I can’t believe it has come to an end. I will definitely be coming back to Rwanda!

Millie

As my time in Kigali is coming to an end, I’m starting to realise how much i don’t want to leave! My entrepreneur said to me this week, its never a goodbye because Rwanda is a place you visit more than once, and I believe him!

Last week when the others were attending the Youth Connekt Summit me and my partner, Tobias, from Groningen went to Akagera National Park with our entrepreneur and a group of American visitors they were hosting – it was amazing! When i got accepted onto the internship one thing i said i wanted to do was a safari so I’m so glad i got the opportunity to go! We saw giraffes, buffalos, baboons, lots of zebras and so many other species!

This week all the work i have been doing for the international conference proposal has come together and my entrepreneur has invited me back to Rwanda to attend the conference to see where my contributions are being implemented.

If you have the opportunity to apply for this internship i would 100% recommend it. It’s work experience and life experience i will honestly never forget

!

 

Zack

What an adventure we have had in Africa. In just under a month we’ve explored the culture and worked full time jobs. We’ve climbed mountains and volcanoes, made friends from all over the world and discovered a new history that we’ll never forget. My  project in Kigali has been great. After 3 weeks of intense preparation of a report for a local budding entrepreneur client, we have had the opportunity to pitch our idea to her. It was great, we produced a 55 page report which she was very grateful for and has decided to proceed with our plans to set up a children’s clothes shop. We suggested using an international wholesaler, and with persuasion she has decided to use our idea. Simple matters which me and my partner wouldn’t have given a second thought we had to explain to our client as the differences in culture and commerce mean we all had different ideas. Nevertheless, it has been a great experience and a memory i’ll never forget. The whole month has been a form of work experience i will never have again in my life. Good luck to next year’s interns!

 

 

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