Run Rwanda: Gitarama – Kigali

After a great couple of days staying with Azizi Life in Gitarama, it was soon time to get back into the running shoes and hit the road.

We had 50km to cover and a local rice processor to meet, all within 48 hours.

Luckily, the first 10km of the run required us to descend down a steep hill and it turned out that over the course of the entire 50km, we would be dropping altitude quite considerably and pretty consistently on our way back to Kigali.

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John running on the road back to Kigali

It was a huge relief to leave the towering hills and mountains of North West Rwanda behind us and I’d been told the route would gradually flatten out as we made our way down to Burundi.

As well as offering much needed respite from tough climbs, the stretch of road from Gitarama to Kigali felt far more developed. I was chased by far fewer kids and heard far fewer cries of ‘Muzungo, Muzungo’, it was clear that we were approaching Rwanda’s progressive and metropolitan capital city.

Along the way, we had set up an afternoon with another local Inkomoko entrepreneur, Jean Bosco – founder of HPS&B, a rice processing and distribution company.

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Jean Bosco, the founder of HPS&B

After meeting Jean Bosco at a gas station, we piled into his truck and drove off, deep into the Rwandan countryside. After about an hour of driving we pulled in to an immense rice-processing factory, which was hugely impressive and slightly in the middle of nowhere!

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Local staff at the rice processing plant

Jean Bosco talked through his entrepreneurial journey, and explained how his company had evolved from working with 3,000 local farmers in nearby Districts, to 80,000 farmers all across Rwanda.

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Rice Paddy is now collected from 80,000 Rwandan farmers and processed at the plant

HPS&B purchase the raw paddy rice from the local farmers, and through a complex 9 stage filtering and cleaning process, they produce and package ready-to-eat rice, before distributing the final product all across Rwanda.

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The Run Rwanda team were taken through each of the 9 processing stages

The team were kind enough to take us through each stage of the process in detail, and while the factory was hot and dusty, it was fascinating to see first hand the journey of rice, from field to plate.

Jean Bosco started working with Inkomoko in July 2013 and together they’ve developed an exciting business plan that should see HPS&B opening up four new plants and expanding into the Congo. The team are also looking to start up a rice transportation business, and are currently on the search for investors to raise the capital necessary to purchase the trucks.

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Rice ready for distribution

Feeling inspired from meeting another big thinking entrepreneur, we finished the final stretch of the run into Kigali and settled down to some much needed rest.

We would spend two days in Kigali meeting some of Rwanda’s most promising urban entrepreneurs, before continuing onto the final leg of Run Rwanda, heading south to the border with Burundi.

Run Rwanda is a project that’s been designed to raise funds for local Rwandan entrepreneurs. Please support the cause at:

http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/fundraisers/runrwanda/

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