Ernest Mugisha, 22, started thinking about how to create a business empire that could change his life and help fight poverty in his community when he was studying Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (MPC) at the high school. Today, the second-year student at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) is among 50 nominees for the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2022. The $100,000 global prize is awarded to a outstanding student who has had 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.
The young man who studies conservation agriculture – mechanization and irrigation – is co-founder of a multi-million dollar company, “Infim Ag-Transform Africa”, specializing in agricultural production, supply chain and the project development.
“My family was too poor to pay my school fees. Luckily Imbuto Foundation offered to pay school fees for me until I finish high school in 2018,” Mugisha told Doing Business.
After graduating from high school, Mugisha put her computer skills to good use. He has developed software capable of linking refugees to job opportunities in the country. But he didn’t stop there. In 2019, he created Pangelassa Revival, a non-profit organization that aimed to address issues of social exclusion among communities, including refugees.
“We could mobilize and provide various supports to these communities and people who donated using the software I created,” he said.
In order to create sustainable sources of income, Mugisha chose agriculture. To make sure he was doing things right and had a viable agribusiness, he applied and won a scholarship to study at RICA and improve his knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture. In December 2019, he recruited three colleagues to start the practice.
Co-founders include: Jean Damascene Kubwayo, Chief Operating Officer; Eric Sibomana, the administrative director; Benjamin Ntihemuka, in charge of sales and marketing; and Assoumpta Umwali Ujeneza, the project manager who joined the team later.
“The mission is to create sustainable communities by transforming innovative agricultural ideas into concrete projects, then to transform the lives of smallholder farmers through digital and smart agriculture. Our main focus is innovation for impact in agriculture,” Mugisha said.
“We joined efforts and each contributed Rwf27,000 to start a tomato farming project in Gashora sector where we leased land. The savings came from the scholarship each of us receives each month. Our capital has gradually increased. Later, we chose to focus on consulting rather than production to help the farming community transform the country’s agriculture. We want to extend services to the region.
The company trains farmers in good modern agricultural practices, designs agro-industrial projects and provides advisory services during project implementation.