Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC) runs its first Business Plan Competition!
by Jado Kabengera
“Que le meilleur gagne (may the best win)!” stated Mr Kabera Callixte, The Rector of RTUC and panel member during the opening of the Business Plan Competition presentations.
In November 2013 Rwanda Tourism University College was excited to initiate its very first Business Plan Competition. RTUC, a Rwandan higher learning institution founded in 2006, started its partnership with SPARK with the project RTUC Entrepreneurship Centre (REC) with the aim to support entrepreneurs (students, alumni and locals) by providing them access to effective business services for enterprise creation and growth.
REC started promoting the competition among students, alumni and the locals, followed by application, training in business plan writing and support from business development advisors. With an overwhelming response of 35 submissions of business plans focusing on different sectors, 23 business plans received a green signal to go forward to the jury. After evaluation selection got narrowed down to 15 business plans who were invited to present their business plans in front of the jury members and an audience of around 200 students.
The top 10 business plans got selected and were awarded with Business Development Services in the form of vouchers for consulting and training which will help them in realising their dream businesses. The top five winners received training and business consulting vouchers worth 800,000 RWF and a laptop each donated by Rwanda Development Board who were part of the jury. The five runner ups received a voucher of 500,000 RWF each. Three female contenders in the top 10 were gifted €1000,-, €500,- and €250,- respectively by a family-friend of RTUC.
“While Spark feels it is great that many others came in with prices for the business plan winners, we need to make sure that people are entering the business plan competitions for the right reasons. We want to make sure that those who are supported have genuine desire to start and grow their business, rather than just getting the prizes from the business plan competition.” says Rwanda Project Manager of SPARK.
Fidele Nsengiyaremye, one of the top winners of the Business Plan Competition thanked REC on behalf of all winners and SPARK for providing technical and financial business development support. He assured proper utilization of the given support and requested continuous support since they have a long way to go.
Nelson Mbarushimana, REC coordinator, reported that the Business Plan Competition was a success, however, one of the challenges that were recognized by the organizing team, is that some of the BPC winners are good at winning business plan competition and the prizes of the business plan competition become the focus, rather than the establishing or growing the business itself.
“In future we need to do more rigorous selection of applicants, so that we can really motivate these newcomers who have not participated in a business plan competition previously and motivate them to move forward” says Nelson Mbarushimana.
Over the course of 2014, four of SPARK partners will be conducting business plan competitions. To insure new business start-ups, business growth and job creation, more emphasis will be put in selection, training, follow up and partnership with potential stakeholders.
* Jado Kabengera is a Programme Officer, MFS II for SPARK Rwanda
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