Publication Date

5-2008

Abstract

In the East African nation of Rwanda, unemployment is a heavy burden for the population, especially for orphans who are forced to act as the heads of their household. As access to the formal education system is difficult, entrepreneurship, as a support system for these caretakers and their families seems to be a hopeful solution. This paper assesses the feasibility and form of a mentorship program to foster entrepreneurship in heads of household orphans who are currently employed at Cards from Africa (CfA), a small greeting card company on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, that strives to pay its workers fair wages as well as holistically nurture their personal growth. This research asks: How could mentorship play a feasible role in preparing heads of household Rwandan orphans for entrepreneurship? In particular, it is important to not only understand how the orphans conceptualize entrepreneurship in their own lives, but also how that fits into the larger cultural framework. This illuminates the internal or external forces that either hinder or help their entrepreneurial development. Mentorship as a viable mechanism for entrepreneurship is discussed in this paper by examining how Rwandans transfer business knowledge to one another, the willingness of local entrepreneurs to do so, and the perceived needs of the orphans. This has been accomplished through qualitative methods, primarily in-depth, semi-structured interviews with experts in entrepreneurship and mentorship, the CfA orphans themselves, and local entrepreneurs. This paper shows that while entrepreneurship education is beneficial, the method of training must be tailored to the type of entrepreneurship experienced by the individuals in their socio-economic context. This research has a practical application, (a) providing CfA with an in-depth look into the feasibility of mentorship for entrepreneurship through the lens of a variety of actors, (b) the findings will also stimulate debate surrounding the importance of culture and context in determining entrepreneurial training methods.

Disciplines

Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations

Share

 
COinS