Entrepreneurship in Burundi: Not easy but possible…

Despite various handicaps to entrepreneurship in Burundi such as the limited access to finance, lack of entrepreneurial spirit and the Burundian culture, some young Burundians have proved that entrepreneurship is possible.

AllegriaNduwimana making wrapping papers

AllegriaNduwimana making wrapping papers

Allegria Nduwimana is a young entrepreneur who produces biodegradable packaging. Grown up in a club promoting the protection of the environment, she thought about protecting the latter by discouraging the usage of plastic bags and replacing them by biodegradable ones. With a capital of only 6000, the young girl began her enterprise, DB Trade, with the only conviction to protect the environment “I wanted to discourage the use of plastic bags and the only contribution I could bring was to replace it.”

The young girl knew this would not be easily understood, that she might not have customers but perseverance and innovation helped her to move forward. “I had one or two customers who could give me BIF3000 within two weeks. It was too little but I had to work so as to improve the quality and make my products look more attractive,” she says.

“When you work hard and follow your conviction, there are some people who will always be willing to support”, Nduwimana says. She says she got a support from someone who made a video displaying what she does. “I got a support from someone who made a video for me and after the short video I got several calls of people congratulating me and ordering my products,” she said.

However, the young lady, like other young entrepreneurs, faces a number of problems. “Traders who are more connected want to profit from our products. They give us a small amount of money and get huge benefit. Another big challenge is the lack of materials at the local level”, she says adding that there are things which she is obliged to do manually and this slows down her job.

Nduwimana appeals to the government to sustain young entrepreneurs: “The government should encourage young entrepreneurs. Their access to the business registration card and importations of small quantity of materials should be facilitated.”

A good idea can attract funding …

Nadege Irakoze “Art innovation’s products”

Nadege Irakoze “Art innovation’s products”

Nadège Irakoze, a young lady who deals in leather-made goods and shoemaking, says she faced the lack of finances at the beginning but got funded thanks to her brilliant ideas. She won a competition organised by Burundi Business Incubator (BBIN) in partnership with PRODEFI-EJR and was able to start her own enterprise “Art Innovation”.

Irakoze has some challenges like the rise in prices of materials she uses because of the lack of foreign currencies “Today, like other entrepreneurs who use imported materials, I experience the problem related to lack of foreign currencies because I cannot keep on changing the price of my products”, she says.

The young entrepreneur appeals to other youth to pursue their dreams and begin to initiate their projects despite the barrier of lack of finances. “Even though the initial fund can be a barrier, we have our ideas that can attract funding. I appeal to young people to believe in their abilities, try to sell their ideas and never give up”, says Irakoze.

Irakoze believes that she can go far with her business “Nobody is born entrepreneur, all big entrepreneurs who are celebrities today had faced challenges in the past but they made it, why not us?”

Our culture and environment do not encourage the entrepreneurial spirit but…

Emile Uwezowamungu “ Youth have no references”

Emile Uwezowamungu “ Youth have no references”

The founder of PARJE, Emile Uwezowamungu, recognises the challenges that Burundian youth meet on their way to entrepreneurship: “Burundian culture and environment do not encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Youth grow up in a society where aunts, uncles, parents…are civil servants. They have no references.”

Uwezowamungu mentions another challenge of finances and intellectual capacity: “Youth are not well equipped to begin with entrepreneurship. They are not taught about it and even those who have entrepreneurial spirit face the problem of lack of funds”, he says.

However, he appeals to young people to dare invest in entrepreneurship and use the small resources they have.

“Despite numerous obstacles, it is possible to become an entrepreneur. And we are here to help others, connect young entrepreneurs and lift each other”.

He also appeals to every Burundian to be cooperative and encourage emerging entrepreneurs.