Hi Again! It’s Angela coming to you from day 3 of our visit to Rwanda and all I can say is “Wow!” What an incredible journey this has continued to be and what an awesome day of teaching, learning, new friends, and unbelievable success stories!
Today, the team woke up and got dressed in our matching blue Aspen Heights Partners polos in an effort to communicate professionalism and respect for the students and young entrepreneurs to whom we were presenting. Secretly nervous, we arrived at the Africa New Life center and were greeted with smiles, applause, and even drum rolls!!! We were all tasked with creating presentations about different subjects in order to help give the students more skills training in business so that they can take these principles and apply them to starting their own businesses or to discovering their personal brand and finding jobs after school.
We talked about Customer Service, Accounting, Resume Writing, and Sales and Marketing and each of our group members contributed to the presentations based on their experience. So you might be wondering; why we were nervous? We should be fine. We are sharing our expertise and what we do every day so shouldn’t we have this down pat by now? Sure we should, but when you have now spent 2 days in a country like Rwanda where you connect with the people on such an amazing level and have begun to understand their stories, where they come from, and how important this education is to them, you begin to feel A LOT of pressure. These young adults have been let down time after time in their lives and we were not about to let them down again! Plus…they are CRAZY smart so it’s a little intimidating to speak to them and not know what they might ask or say! The whole team was up late the night before refining and rehearsing our presentations to make sure that we were sharing our knowledge in a way that really taught them something new but also in a way that they could understand even through the language and cultural barrier.
As it turns out, we were worried for no reason although very glad we had prepared! The students loved the trainings and were very engaged with great (and really hard) questions. They asked about how to be honest and attract customers, how to understand budgeting, how to prepare a Resume or CV when they do not have a lot of professional experience yet, and how to market a start-up when they have little to no money yet. They were really listening and wanting to understand who we are and how we, as Aspen Heights, have been successful and how they can use these principles in their own lives. It was so fun to get to know these amazing people even better to see how much they truly wanted to learn and interact with us.
At the end of the training and before a delicious lunch all together, Greg Vestri addressed the group to let everyone know about the 3 students who had spent all day the day prior working with us and interviewing for an internship at our corporate office in Texas. He explained the program and the fact that we planned to accept one of the Civil Engineering students to work with us over the summer. With tear-filled eyes, he then explained that we decided that we would actually take not one, but two of the students under our wings this year as he announced Samantha and Berthine as the winners of the Internships. It was a very emotional moment for the entire room as the rest of the students cheered on their “sisters” and the Aspen Heights team cried and hugged our newest team members!
After our eventful time with the students, we went on to visit 2 of the businesses that have been started by young entrepreneurs from the program. First, we went to “Frank’s Place” which is actually called Gravity Rwanda. He has an art studio and a media design center and has big dreams of teaching others about art and design because it is something that is never offered until the University level and he feels that creativity is such an important part of life and business and he is finding the solution to the lack of training in this field. Frank is the most contagiously happy person and his laugh and passion for what he does could sell ice to a snowman! He has already signed 4 clients and has a very scalable plan to take Gravity to the next level. Visit www.gravity.rw to see more!
Next we visited Scovia’s house and chicken farm. She now has 500 chickens after starting with 250 and zero knowledge of chicken farming. She has expanded her farm space, found future land to account for her expected growth, and has many customers who place regular egg orders with her already. During the day, she works in IT while her brothers help her manage the business. She is a very impressive young lady who is a testament to the growth in opportunities particularly for women in Rwanda.
It was a day full of high notes and the team ended in Heaven…literally we went to an amazing restaurant called Heaven where we laughed and shared stories and enjoyed ourselves after a very inspiring and beautiful day interacting with Rwanda’s best and brightest.
Signing off with anticipation for tomorrow,
Check out Aspen Heights Awake to learn more about our humanitarian & non-profit initiatives.