Class assignment guided student to successful empire

Thursday March 19 2020

Divine

Uwase Divine founder of Sharama Tours and Events. Photo | Cyril NDEGEYA  

LEONCE MUVUNYI
By LEONCE MUVUNYI
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Entrepreneurship ideas crafted out of class assignment have seen Divine Uwase build a vibrant tour and events organizing company.

It was during her second year in Akilah Institute for Women when students were assigned to come up with an interesting and entertaining entrepreneurship idea for class presentation.

“After screening a documentary film of how World Disney was born and how many people it employs, our lecture told us to think of an entertaining bankable idea, and I wanted to come up with something inclusive to all categories of social life — the poor, rich, children and old ones,” said Ms Uwase.

“I designed an imaginary scene on an island in Kibuye with different sections which could give excitement to all those people in their respective categories, and I gave it a name that could tell the whole magical experience, I named it Sharama,” she added.

Ms Uwase, 21, who is still pursuing a diploma course in hospitality management, brainstormed to founding Sharama Events and Tours in November 2018.

Ms Uwase recalled how her visit to Kigali Height shows presented opportunity to meet students from African Leadership University, who were eager to know more about Rwanda.

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“I presented to them my idea of organizing small team and hang out in Gisenyi town of Rubavu district and they got excited and from there I started getting people to sign up for different trips, ” she indicated.

Capital

Her first capital was Rwf6, 000, which was to take four people to Rubavu district who had signed up. She borrowed Rwf100,000 from a colleague to make arrangements for the visit, which she considers as additional capital. She charged participants between Rwf30,000 and Rw40,000 per person for one daytrip.

However, her fortunes started changing when the second trip attracted many people. She started getting the returns on investment after the third trip which took place in May.

“On the second trip and subsequent ones, I took my time to prepare to ensure they were successful., She indicated. Ms Uwase’s investment strategy is to build and maintain networks as she builds her client base.

According to Ms Uwase, many Rwandans still perceive tourism as an activity for foreigners, partly because they lack information and a mindset shift to embrace local tourism.

However, according to Ms Uwase, every well-healed facet comes with wrinkles. As a young girl, she has to deal with stereotypes. She meets many people who want to take advantage of her., she added.

“One of the challenge I usually meet with is of some people that are still belittling girls, thinking that a woman is a cheap person and easy to take advantage of,” she stressed.

While Rwanda is putting forward the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) as products attracting the visitors, Ms Uwase indicates that the Kigali city, which hosts most of the conferences, has limited touristic products.

“Most of the conference delegates have around two to three hours to chilling, and what we could offer them within that period is city tour but Kigali has less to offer. Kigali has no park, has no lake, apart from the view,” she indicated.

“We get some conference delegates whose interests are in going into zoos, parks and lakes, but it could take up five hours to get where these attractions are, which is inconvenient, within the short period they have on their schedule,” she said.

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