– It’s amazing to see all the reconciliation projects, how the country has been established and healed and that we now, with our teaching, can participate in that process. It’s an incredible experience.
This says Ola Ekman, a well-known entrepreneur from Gothenburg, who participated in the construction of a large number of companies, one of which has gone to the stock exchange. For several years now, he has contributed as a teacher at Focus Business School to creating business and growth even in Rwanda, Central Africa.
”There may be about 100 companies that are now running to a greater or lesser extent. First and foremost, it is about teaching people to support their own families. But what begins as a livestock company often appears to have a lot more growth potential.” says Ola Ekman.
Someone starts manufacturing bricks, another breeds chickens or perhaps a service company in, for example, IT or cleaning, restaurant or a trade.
The investment in Rwanda took off after a visit to the capital Kigali, when Ola Ekman, commissioned by the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), taught entrepreneurship. He saw the needs and the opportunity to do something much bigger and contacted Marco Strömberg. And we are now on that road.
”I knew Focus Business School and knew that teaching with locally-run schools through parishes works with great success all over the world. So we started even in Rwanda, a country that had been so badly wounded after one of the worst genocides in history, in 1994 when more than a million people were killed in a hundred days.
”What we see today is something completely different. I was directly fond of the country and its people. It is a stable country, today has very low corruption and is thus a real forerunner for all of Africa.” emphasizes Ola Ekman.
Here, Focus Business School has now laid a very strong foundation. The board includes several of the country’s key personnel. Among other leaders of the Anglican Church, Bishop John Rucyahana, who was leading in the reconciliation process and is comparable to South Africa’s Desmund Tutu.
Large wounds have previously existed between the churches since the genocide. It has therefore been important to get as many people as possible engaged in the reconciliation process.
”We now see how we could significantly contribute to reconciliation between different parliaments. Even to build trust for entrepreneurs, they can actually be honest and, moreover, important for building the local churches.” says Ola Ekman, who has overall responsibility for Focus Business School in Rwanda.
Bengt-Åke Freiman, an entrepreneur from Stockholm, has for several years also regularly assisted with teacher training in Kigalis, now numbering four school units. He describes Rwanda as a miracle country where everything is well organized and that it is therefore easy to do business.
”We have seen and heard many amazing testimonies how this unique teaching, which works everywhere on earth, made a huge difference in people’s lives. It can be a poor woman without previous education, who proudly can now provide for entire family. But equally, well-educated young people with great ambitions, who instead of moving abroad choose to contribute to the whole country’s growth and future.
”Everything is based on values, pervaded by the word of God. On that basis, you then do business.” emphasizes Ola Ekman. In this way, new role models are created that show that you do not build business only for yourself, but in collaboration with others for the benefit of the whole community.
Footnote: Negotiations are being made to make Focus Business School a National Entrepreneurship School in Rwanda with contributions from the state.
Text: Per-Åke Hultberg