Diogene’s life story is nothing short of inspiring. At age eight, he made and sold samosas, paying his own way through primary school. At secondary school, he taught himself how to repair computers and started doing it to earn extra money. He also worked part-time at his school to help pay his fees. He followed his passion for computing, going on to get a certificate in ICT and then setting up a web applications development business. Realising that there was not a lot of demand for web applications and noticing a lack of high-quality, healthy bread on the Rwandan market, he decided to switch to food processing. His business Rwedigo produces healthy bread, fruit juices and biscuits.
In December 2013, he was shortlisted as one of the top 10 young entrepreneurs in Rwanda by Educat.
Bhavesh is a chartered accountant and business consultant with seven plus years’ experience in financial services, internal controls, auditing and strategy consulting. He joined Grow because he was interested in learning about entrepreneurs in the developing world and felt he had skills that could helpful to them.
Diogene needed help preparing a business plan to enable him to apply for external funding to expand his business. He also needed help with basic financial management and record-keeping.
Bhavesh and Diogene worked together on a detailed business plan that presented the business as an appealing investment. While developing the business plan, they assessed how the business could be improved by reducing waste and overheads, increasing foot traffic and how to get more supply contracts with organisations such as schools.
The business plan resulted in seven new jobs, including sales agents and bakery workers. Diogene also now has a clear vision for his business. In one year’s time, he wants to be supplying four provinces in Rwanda and in five years’ time, the whole of East Africa.
“Before Grow I was not saving my profits. Now I am doing it. I found it difficult in the beginning, but my consultant was very encouraging and patient with me. The differences in culture didn’t really matter when we were working together.”
“This experience was eye-opening and refreshing. It challenged me to think outside the box. It was a very useful exercise for me because in my work usually I have access to all the numbers. In this case, I had to step away from the numbers a bit and really understand what he was thinking on a broader, strategic level. It was about making the best of what he had and working out how to help him move forward.”