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Ernest Mugisha, 22, started pondering about how to create a business empire that could change his life as well as help fight poverty in his community when he was studying Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (MPC) in high school. Today, the second-year student at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) is among the 50 nominees for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2022. The $100,000 global award is given to an exceptional student who made a real impact on learning, the lives of peers and society. Mugisha was selected from nearly 7,000 nominations and applications from 150 countries, according to The New Times, Rwanda’s leading daily newspaper.
The young man who is studying conservation agriculture – mechanization and irrigation – is a co-founder of a multimillion-dollar company, “Infim Ag-Transform Africa,” dealing in agricultural production, supply-chain and project development.
“My family was too poor to afford paying my school fees. Fortunately, Imbuto Foundation offered to pay school fees for me until I completed secondary school in 2018,” Mugisha told Doing Business.
Upon finishing high school, Mugisha put his computer science skills to good use. He developed software able to link refugees to job opportunities in the country. But he did not stop there. In 2019, he created Pangelassa Revival, a non-profit that aimed to solve the problems of social exclusion among communities including refugees.
“We could mobilize and provide various support to such communities and people donated using the software I created,” he said.
In order to create sustainable sources of income, Mugisha chose business in agriculture. To make sure he did things right and had a viable agribusiness, he applied and obtained a scholarship to study at RICA and enhance his knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture. In December 2019, he brought on board three colleagues to start the firm.
The co-founders include: Jean Damascene Kubwayo, the chief of operations; Eric Sibomana, the chief administrative officer; Benjamin Ntihemuka, in charge of sales and marketing; and Assoumpta Umwali Ujeneza, the projects’ lead who joined the team later on.
“The mission is to create sustainable communities by transforming agricultural innovative ideas into tangible ventures and then transform the lives of smallholder farmers through digital and smart agriculture. Our main goal is innovation for impact in agriculture,” Mugisha said.
“We joined efforts and each contributed Rwf27,000 to start a tomato farming project in the Gashora sector where we leased land. The savings came from the bursary each of us receives every month. Our capital gradually increased. Later, we chose to focus on consultancy instead of production so as to help the farming community to transform agriculture in the country. We want to extend the services to the region.”
The company trains farmers on good modern agricultural practices, designs agribusiness projects and provides advisory services during project implementation.