South Denver Group Helps Rwandans Build Self-Sustaining Businesses, Schools
“Life is not about how much money you make and the stuff you have. It is about the impact you can have on other’s lives and the opportunities you can create for them.” –Andrew Clough
Finally. After about 24 hours of travel, we landed in Kigali, Rwanda. It is dark outside. As we exit the plane, the warm, humid air and the smell of jet fuel mixed with diesel hit me. As we walked across the tarmac toward the terminal, many police and military personnel with stoic faces watch our every move. We make our way through customs, gather our baggage and make our way out of the airport. As soon as we walk out the airport doors, we are met by our “welcoming committee.” There are smiles and hugs for all of us from the people that have been expecting our arrival!
What does it take to change a nation? To give people a tangible hope that the future can actually be better? It takes vision. It takes a plan. It takes starts with the people who are in need of work. It partners with a government that is motivated to make life better for its people. That is what our group of business leaders from Colorado went to do: start putting that plan into action.
Rwanda was torn apart 25 years ago by a horrific genocide. During the 100 days of the genocide, more than 1 million people lost their lives. As a result, today there is a noticeable absence of older people. Rwanda is a nation of youth trying to find their way in the world. Despite living in one of the top three fastest growing economies in all of Africa, many Rwandans are trying to find their way in the country. Many people are hungry, need work and need to be trained in specialized skills.
As we drove through the growing capital city of Kigali, we saw everything from skyscrapers to slums. There are many people working, and there are also many people who are waiting for work. There were a few areas that were obviously centers for business and government. But as you go out from those areas, the wealth quickly disappears and you see people in poverty who are working to meet their basic needs each day.
Andrew Clough and Steve Gerber own successful roofing businesses in Colorado. They have a vision to change the nations, and they are starting in Rwanda.
“Life is not about how much money you make and the stuff you have. It is about the impact you can have on other’s lives and the opportunities you can create for them,” Andrew says.
Andrew and Steve want to make it possible for the young adults in Rwanda to be able to get business training, have job opportunities and expand their vision for what is possible for their future. They started Kingdom Building International. KBI’s goal is to build business for heaven’s gain.
So, instead of handing out food or clothing, the way these business owners have decided to influence the change of this nation is by creating jobs, building affordable housing, teaching the people about business, aiding in the building of school facilities and sharing with the people that Jesus cares about them. The goal is to bring tangible benefits along with the message of hope that only Jesus can give.
“We know how to do business. We’ve built successful businesses here in Colorado. We don’t need to make money in Rwanda, but we want to provide opportunity and help them learn how to support themselves,” Andrew says.
The vision is to use the business savvy they’ve learned in the United States and start businesses in Rwanda. Though these businesses will turn a profit, all of the profits will be reinvested back into new projects in Rwanda. KBI is already employing people and will soon be providing jobs as they start more projects.
In Nyagatare Province, we met with Bishop Mary. She operates many private schools. We bumped our way down long dirt roads—even getting our van stuck in the mud once—to arrive at the schools. As we exited the van, the sounds of a beating drum and children singing filled the air. The excitement in the air was palpable. We walked into the large room, and it became difficult to talk because the beautiful singing was so loud. It was so energizing to be there and see the excitement of these children to learn.
“It is easier to raise up children than it is to repair man,” Bishop Mary says.
Her goal is to provide quality education to as many children as possible. Not only that, but she wants to provide them the tools to be successful in life. Many parents opt to send their children to private schools. The challenge has become building facilities. The tuition the parents can afford to pay is enough to pay for teachers, materials and maintaining facilities, but building new facilities is quite challenging.
While in Rwanda, we traveled around most of the country as we looked at business opportunities. The result? Kingdom Building International will be starting projects this year to build housing, start some agricultural projects and put plans in place to build a school facility. The nation is hungry for growth, and the business leaders of Rwanda are eager to be part of building up their nation. Who knows what may come of all this. Perhaps others will catch this vision and we will see an explosion of growth across the world because business leaders decide to use their gifts and resources for more than their own gain.
To find out more about the programs being started, or to get involved with a project, visit Kingdom Building International’s sister company’s website, FloodGates.Life.