By Iribagiza Nyiramugisha
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney.
"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." - Albert Schweitzer
Tuyishime Nshizirungu personifies the sentiment in these quotes. He is a student at Southern New Hampshire University through the The Kepler program and is an entrepreneur selling clothing to the Kiziba Camp Market.
Many might associate young entrepreneurs with those in Silicon Valley and European tech hubs. There are also individuals in Africa like Tuyishime who are involved in entrepreneurship at a young age. One of Tuyishime's first business projects was when he was about 12 years old; he sold maizes, beans and fruits to those people in the Kiziba Camp.
He had a dream of becoming a businessman dating back to his childhood in Rwanda. When he was young, he used to tell his mother that he would be like their neighbor who was a successful entrepreneur in the community. He did not give up even though he was met with different challenges. Those challenges were lacking capital, experiencing losses and missing market opportunities.
This interest in entrepreneurship was nurtured back when he was a middle school student. His school developed a curriculum for students with different ways of learning.
“After struggling earlier in my initial schooling, I was placed in this system and did really well,” he said. “This unique program was focused on students’ interests. I really enjoy selling different products as well as creating my own business. The educational experience helped further ignite my entrepreneurial spirit.”
He applied the different skills that he learned at school and at his early jobs to launch a business around his passion of selling fruits and vegetables. He overcame the initial challenges of not having upfront capital by starting out slowly and building on initial successes.
“There were different keys that helped me to become successful,” he said. “For instance, if you want to start a business, don’t just focus on the capital. For me, I started by selling a few clothing items to gain momentum. Then I was eventually able to make a profit after three months. I used these profits to expand my business.”
Part of his expansion came after completing his Associate of Arts degree and he decided to open a shop which sells clothes in the Kiziba Refugee Camp.
His entrepreneurial journey was also impacted by a job he held teaching literature and geography in a secondary school. In the midst of this, he realized an important lesson: his weaknesses were actually his greatest strengths.
“I was able to realize that I had the ability to see things in a different light and connect disparate ideas,” he said. “I was able to connect different ideas to achieve my goal of creating my own business.”
My conversation with Tuyishime underscored the importance of entrepreneurs being innovative to achieve success.
Leverage technology. Tuyishime is using technology to advertise his products. He is using social media channels like Facebook and Whatsapp to advertise his products. This sets him apart from many of his competitors who do not use technology. If you are going to start a business, consider using social media to promote your business.
Entrepreneurship allows you to create a dream job. Tuyishime advises young people to consider creating their own business. “A student can graduate and hope that he or she will get a job,” he said. “Unfortunately, you can spend many years pursuing a dream job and never succeed. Starting a business also allows you to pursue your interests, provide value and benefit others.”
Have a growth mindset. As young people, it is better to have a growth mindset - the idea that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Tuyishime has exemplified this by starting his own business without having enough capital. He also demonstrated this growth mindset even during his childhood. Part of having a growth mindset entails awareness of opportunities in the market. If you really know your competitors and the market, this can help you come up with solutions to different challenges.
Be persistent. Sometimes, entrepreneurs experience failure. These are opportunities to learn. Tuyishime experienced this when he was working on his Associate of Arts degree at the same time he was teaching in college. It was difficult, but he learned important skills: communication, problem-solving and critical thinking. Practice makes perfect.
I was most impressed to hear how Tuyishime created his own business around one of his hobbies of selling clothes. Previously, I doubted whether I could create a business around my own personal interests. It was inspiring to hear Tuyishime share this point of view and actually it has me thinking about doing the same.
Before meeting with Tuyishime, I feared starting my own business because I was thinking it wouldn’t be possible while I was a student. From the interview, I learned the importance of trying new things, having a growth mindset and being persistent in what I love to do.
I would like to create my own business that sells different kinds of food including potatoes, fruits etc. I already have some experience in selling boys and girls’ clothing; I am going to start selling clothes for men and women too by December 2022.
I always had this idea that the most successful entrepreneurs did very well in school as well as at their workplace. Talking to Tuyishime, I see otherwise.
Change is happening. Continuous learning is what has enabled societies to become successful over time. I look forward to doing my part to contribute to positive progress as well as being successful in my own business. The words of individuals like Walt Disney and Albert Schweitzer and stories like Tuyishime can serve as a source of inspiration.
Connect with Tuyishime via email firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn.
This article was written by Iribagiza Nyiramugisha, a student at Southern New Hampshire University. You can connect with her on Linkedin or email email@example.com. She wrote this story after going through Global Innovators Academy's Interview an Innovator online course experience.