“If you dream of something that can break boundaries, Rwanda is the place to be.”
That was the message from Her Excellency Mathilde Mukantabana, ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States, to students at the Kelley School of Business on IUPUI’s campus.
Indiana University faculty and staff met with the ambassador during her recent visit to Indianapolis that included stops at universities and meetings with city leaders and community groups. The Ambassador’s visit was hosted by The Sagamore Institute.
“Africa offers opportunities students may not have thought about. When they say ‘Africa Rising,’ it’s true. Rwanda’s economy is growing; we have resources and able leadership there,” said Mukantabana. “We have many people coming to Rwanda to learn how we were able to build up a nation coming out of total destruction, to now say that Rwanda has a lot to share. Our economy is growing, and we have good governance and promotion of democracy.”
Rwanda has come a long way since the 1994 genocide that left hundreds of thousands of people dead. The country has one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, improving its global income ranking from the seventh poorest in 2000 to the 20th in 2015, according to the World Bank in Rwanda. The World Bank also reports that Rwanda’s exports have increased tremendously in the last decade, from $400 million in 2007 to $1.6 billion in 2016. A recent report shows Rwanda “has carried out the highest number of business-friendly reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa in the last 15 years.”
“The Rwandan economy is one of the more impressive now in Sub-Sahara. They’re very intentional in their institutional development, to make it easy for folks from abroad to do business in Rwanda,” said Phil Powell, associate dean of academic programs at the Kelley School at IUPUI. “Its progress over the last 20 years is impressive: to go from genocide and civil war—one of the worst events in the millennium—to being on the cusp of innovative economic development. I also applaud their work to include women in business. Sixty-four percent of those in Rwanda’s parliament are women. This is the type of place we want to expose students to, to understand the global economy.”
“Rwanda has a lot to share,” said Mukantabana. “We’ve seen a lot of benefit from students coming from the U.S. and other countries. If you want to make it your career or if you dream of something that can break the boundaries, Rwanda is the place to be. We have good governance, a good environment for investment and a good place to study.”
Powell says the discussion during the Ambassador’s visit to IUPUI was productive.
“The visit raised our awareness of Rwanda as an opportunity for learning, and we will be in support of any regional initiatives moving forward,” said Powell.
“If you want to make it your career, or if you dream of something that can break the boundaries, Rwanda is the place to be. Indiana has a lot to offer, and we have a lot to offer as well,” said Mukantabana. “There are a number of things I have learned in terms of an amazing academic city. We are working to make our university a first-class university, so learning from good systems is prized.”
The Kelley School of Business has done consulting work in emerging economies all over the globe. In Africa, Kelley School students and faculty have worked in a number of countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Liberia and Swaziland. Evening MBA students most recently provided unpaid consulting work in South Africa in March 2017.