Launching a Business? Choose the Right Legal Structure

Launching a Business? Choose the Right Legal Structure

A major factor to consider when starting a business is the legal structure. In Rwanda, your business can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. The structure you select will impact the kind and number of shareholders (co-owners of the firm) you can have, your personal accountability for business debts, and the costs of beginning and maintaining your business.

Learn more about these structures and their advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Sole proprietorship:

This structure is usually best when a single entrepreneur launches a business. On the plus side, it is easier to set up and register a sole proprietorship, and as the sole proprietor, you retain complete control over the business’s operations. A major plus is that ongoing compliance responsibilities are limited since you are not required to have general meetings, submit yearly reports, or file annual returns.

The primary drawback of being a sole proprietor is that you are personally accountable for all business obligations, including debts, which can put your personal assets at risk should you find your business in financial trouble.

  1. Partnerships:

This form of legal structure has only been allowed in Rwanda since early 2021. It is an alliance of 2 or more people who agree to conduct a business together. Each individual invests money, property, effort, and expertise in the firm and anticipates a share of the gains and losses.

Partnerships have low startup costs, are simple to create, and members share the profits. Owners are taxed only on their own personal income. If a partner wants to leave the partnership, they may withdraw from their corporate interests.

On the downside, personal liability may still be an issue. Raising more funds and finding acceptable partners are also sometimes challenging.

 

  1. Corporation

A corporation is a legally recognized entity that enables the entrepreneur to separate personal assets from your business. This means that people who invest in the firm (shareholders) are only liable for the business’s debts up to the value of their investment. As a result, it is a highly effective method of attracting investment without risking your personal wealth. However, it is the most expensive legal business structure to form, is highly regulated, and requires considerable record keeping. Finally, there is double taxation, first on company profits and then on your personal earnings.

This is a quick review of the legal structures available to you when starting a business. For more advice, seek a legal or tax specialist if you have any specific concerns.


Startup Festival

Are you a startup operating in the Commonwealth member state? Apply for the Kigali Startup Festival before 6 June 2022 

Startup Festival

Are you a startup operating in the Commonwealth member state? Apply for the Kigali Startup Festival before 6 June 2022 

The Commonwealth Youth Forum invites applicants to the Kigali Startup Festival. The festival celebrates the innovation, entrepreneurship, drive, and contributions of Commonwealth youth to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Selected participants will be sponsored to pitch their innovations for cash prizes at the upcoming Commonwealth Youth Forum, taking place from June 19 – 21, 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda.  

Participants will have the opportunity to compete for the following awards: 

  • Champions of Inter-Trade – Export promotion 
  • Pioneers of Agricultural Innovation – Agricultural productivity 
  • Green Innovation Guru – Addressing circular and climate change issues 
  • Digital Geeks – Leveraging digital technologies to address daily-life challenges 

Interested applicants must fulfill the following criteria to apply: 

  • Be aged 18 to 29 years 
  • Be a citizen of the Commonwealth member state 
  • Have a valid legal proof of business or project ownership 

To participate in the festival, visit Applications 


Startups Black Founders

Apply for Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Africa before 31 May 2022 

Startups Black Founders

Apply for Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Africa before 31 May 2022 

Google for Startups invites applicants for the Black Founders Fund Africa, a program that aims to support early-stage black-founded startups that benefit the black community on the African continent. The program seeks explicitly to bridge the existing fundraising gap for black startup founders in Africa’s fast-growing technology landscape. Google for Startups has set aside up to USD 100,000 in equity-free cash, up to USD 200,000 in Google cloud credits, and access to the best of Google – people, products, and practices. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to receive mentorship support to accelerate business growth and to connect with Google for Startups Accelerator & Partner program alumni. 

The Black Founders Fund Africa is intended for startups in Africa seeking seed-stage funding that meet the following criteria:  

  • Be from the following African countries including Botswana, Cameroun, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe 
  • Have an existing product or service for Africa and the global market 
  • Demonstrate the ability to create jobs, raise more funding, and make an impact 
  • The founding team should at least have one black C-level founding member (COO, CEO, or CFO) 
  • The company should be operating as a technology startup or a business where technology is a core for the ability to scale  
  • Proposed startup products/services should be compatible with Google products 

To apply for this program, visit: Applications 


AWIEF Awards

Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum Awards

AWIEF Awards

Do you know a women-led business that has impacted inclusive growth and social development in Africa? Nominate them for Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum Awards before 3 June 2022

Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, an organization that empowers women entrepreneurs in Africa, invites nominations for the 2022 edition of the AWIEF Awards. The awards celebrate, recognize and honour women entrepreneurs and business owners across Africa for their achievements and contribution to the continent’s inclusive growth and social development.

Winners of the 2022 AWIEF Awards will be announced and celebrated at a special ceremony and gala dinner at the AWIEF2022 conference. The conference will take place on 26 and 27 September 2022, in Cairo, Egypt, with the theme ‘Advancing Africa through Gender Integration.’

The AWIEF Awards cover eight categories with the following criteria:

  • The Young Entrepreneur Award: Nominees must be between 18 and 35 years old and must exemplify leadership in their field and the importance of entrepreneurship to effect positive change. The young entrepreneurs must have achieved tangible and material success (revenue and number of employees can indicate this).
  • Tech Entrepreneur Award: Nominees should be female entrepreneurs who have built an innovative, groundbreaking, and game-changing technology venture or start-up.
  • Agri Entrepreneur Award: Nominees should be female entrepreneurs who have successfully started an agri-enterprise and have an innovative product or service in the Agriculture value chain with evidence of impact in their communities.
  • Creative Industry Award: Nominees should be female entrepreneurs who reflect outstanding success in the creative industry, including music, performing arts, film, television and radio, software and interactive content such as virtual reality and augmented reality, media writing, publishing, and print media, design and visual art.
  • Empowerment Award: Nominees should be women who have contributed significantly and invested in inspiring, mentoring, and empowering women and girls, thereby significantly impacting the communities in which they operate and society at large.
  • Energy Entrepreneur Award: Nominees should be female entrepreneurs in the oil & gas and green energy & renewable energy sectors operating successful businesses with an impact on energy access and the availability in their communities and countries.
  • Social Entrepreneur Award: Nominees should be female entrepreneurs who have developed an innovative, systemic and sustainable solution that directly tackles a social issue, thereby having a transformative social impact on their communities and countries.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Nominees should be established women entrepreneurs who have demonstrated prolonged and consistent achievements in business and exceptional business leadership. The award also recognizes significant contributions made to job creation and the economy.

To nominate a business, first, register here, and submit your nomination here


Women Agripreneur

Are you an innovative women agripreneur? Apply for the AGRA VALUE4HER Women Agripreneur of the Year Awards before 31 May 2022

Are you an innovative women agripreneur? Apply for the AGRA VALUE4HER Women Agripreneur of the Year Awards before 31 May 2022

AGRA, a farmer-centered, African-led, and partnerships-driven institution that catalyzes inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa, invites applicants for the VALUE4HER Women Agripreneur of the Year Awards (WAYA 2022). The award recognizes African women agripreneurs who have excelled in the agricultural value chain and have demonstrated exceptional innovation that addresses food security, climate resilience, and women and youth empowerment.

The WAYA awards recognize established and emerging women agripreneurs in three categories: young female entrepreneur (rising star), outstanding value-adding enterprise, and female agriculture technology innovator. Winners of each category will receive a cash prize of USD 20,000.

Women agripreneurs interested in participating must fulfill the following criteria to apply:

  • Be operating in agriculture/agribusiness value chains
  • Have an innovative product/service
  • Be a national from one of the 54 African countries
  • Have a solid digital footprint and be a VALUE4HER member
  • Be a remarkable community leader actively amplifying the voice of women.

To apply for the WAYA awards, visit: WAYA Application


GoGettaz Competition

Are you an entrepreneur in the Agri-food sector interested in scaling up your business? Apply for the GoGettaz Competition by 6 June 2022

Are you an entrepreneur in the Agri-food sector interested in scaling up your business? Apply for the GoGettaz Competition by 6 June 2022

Generation Africa, a partnership initiative aimed at strengthening the ecosystem for young entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector, invites applicants for the GoGetttaz Agripreneur Competition. This year’s edition will focus on supporting entrepreneurs whose ventures battle climate change, hunger, and poverty. Interested applicants must join theGoGettaz community before applying. Through the GoGettaz community, they will gain access to education, mentorship, and investment networks to help them launch, grow and scale their agri-food ventures. Additionally, two successful participants (one female and one male) will win USD 50,000 as a prize for the most innovative and scalable business ventures.

Interested entrepreneurs must fulfill the following criteria to apply:

  • Be aged 35 years or younger on the date of submission and be legally recognized as an adult in the country of their nationality
  • Have nationality (with an official ID) from an African Union member country
  • Be a founder/co-founder of the venture he/she represents in the Competition and play an active role in its leadership and operations
  • Have no criminal record related to corruption, tax evasion, financial impropriety, felony, or other offense and be willing to offer a signed declaration to that effect, if requested

Additionally, the business venture must also fulfill the following criteria to be considered for the Competition:

  • Be legally registered in a country that is a member of the African Union or will have commenced with the registration of such a legal entity before 1 July 2022
  • Be headquartered in a country that is a member of the African Union
  • Be designed to be financially sustainable, either as a for-profit business or a non-profit generating some revenue and aiming not to be dependent on donor funding
  • Have a role to play in the agri-food sector and/or supports the development of the agri-food sector through an innovation or process improvement
  • The agri-food sector may be defined as businesses including:
    • Agri-food research & development
    • Primary food production (farming)
    • Crop nutrition
    • Irrigation
    • Mechanization, automation, or robotics, including drones
    • Crop protection
    • Hydroponics or urban farming
    • Transport, distribution, storage, or logistics
    • Food processing
    • Packaging or marketing
    • Food retail or service
    • Waste management or recycling
    • Digital or technology solutions/services to the agri-food sector
    • Innovative finance solutions/services to the agri-food sector
    • Renewable energy or environmental solutions/services to the agri-food sector

To apply for this Competition, visit: GoGettaz Competition Application


Business Accelerator program

Are you an African female entrepreneur interested in preparing your business for investment? Apply for the ShEquity Business Accelerator program by 6 May 2022

Are you an African female entrepreneur interested in preparing your business for investment? Apply for the ShEquity Business Accelerator program by 6 May 2022

ShEquity, an investment catalyst for African female entrepreneurs, invites applicants for ShEquity Business Accelerator program (SHEBA). The 16-week program focuses on preparing female-led and -owned businesses for investment with the goal of increasing their chances of accessing seed funding. The program is also designed to enhance leadership and soft skills needed to engage with key partners/customers and to inspire women entrepreneurs to revamp and test their marketing strategies.

Through the program, participants will be equipped with the skillset to develop new business models and mindsets for innovation while leveraging existing tools that will help them maintain a competitive edge. The program supports African female entrepreneurs in agribusiness (agritech, production, processing wholesale & retailing, any other agribusiness value chain aspects), healthcare, tech-enabled solutions (fintech, clean tech, etc.), renewable energies, mobility and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs).

To apply for this program, visit: SHEBA Application


Africa Impact Challenge

Are you a young tech innovator interested in scaling up your solution? Apply for the Africa Impact Challenge

Are you a young tech innovator interested in scaling up your solution? Apply for the Africa Impact Challenge

Africa Impact Initiative, a Canada-based organization committed to supporting young innovators, invites applicants for their Africa Impact Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to enable young tech innovators from Africa to build market-creating innovations that tackle their country’s challenges with technology.

Successful participants will be offered the capital of up to RWF 20,486,915, resources, and a paid incubation period at the University of Toronto to build viable solutions. Interested participants should have comprehensive tech-enabled solutions that address an identified problem/challenge in their respective countries. Preference will be given to scalable, innovative business models with solutions that target non-consumption by increasing adoption, accessibility, or affordability.

Interested participants must fulfill the following to apply

  • Be African under 39 years of age living in the countries of the given year’s Challenge
  • Have a desire to pursue impact-focused entrepreneurship as a means of livelihood
  • Have a desire to solve critical problems with technology
  • Have full-time commitment from the team building the ventures
  • Stream 1: Ventures based in Rwanda from any sector
  • Stream 2: Ventures based across Africa that enable positive health outcomes

To apply for this Challenge, visit: Submit Application


women entrepreneurs

Meet three incredible women entrepreneurs as we celebrate women this March.

Meet three incredible women entrepreneurs as we celebrate women this March.

This March, join us as we reflect on and celebrate the vital role women play in our communities and the tremendous contribution they make to our economy. The SME Response Clinic spoke to three women entrepreneurs to understand what women’s month means to them s, what motivated them to start their own businesses, and get their advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs.

Here is what they had to say!

Featured:

Marie Josee Umutesi

Co-founder, CTO Larna Limited

Contact: +250 783 450 169

Aline Uwase

Founder of HappyNes

Contact: +250 784 069 067

Irene Masezerano

Co-founder Vertable Limited

Contact: +250 787 755 717


Women Entrepreneurs

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs this March with the SME Response Clinic – Insights from Women Entrepreneurs and Leaders

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs this March with the SME Response Clinic – Insights from Women Entrepreneurs and Leaders  

As we continue to celebrate March, the women’s history month, the SME Response Clinic is pleased to share with you a recap of some of the highlights from our engagements with women entrepreneurs and leaders in Rwanda over the past two years. Women entrepreneurs play a vital role in developing Rwanda’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and make a tremendous contribution to the nation’s economy. Join us in celebrating women entrepreneurs this month and throughout the year! 

Here are some of the highlights:  

Webinar on “Practical Solutions for Improving the Wellbeing of Women Entrepreneurs” 

On 8 December 2021, the SME Response Clinic, in partnership with Geruka Healing Center, held a webinar featuring women entrepreneurs at the Kigali Public Library as part of the Building Back Healthier series. The webinar’s objective was to inform, inspire and share knowledge and skills that businesswomen can use to better their wellbeing as they deal with their day-to-day business activities while managing other responsibilities. The webinar featured a mental health expert, Adelite Mukamana and two businesswomen, Scovia Umutoni and Amina Umuhoza. 

Learn More 

Interview with Her Excellency Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, former Deputy Governor of National Bank of Rwanda and current Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission 

In July 2020, the SME Response Clinic interviewed Her Excellency Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa to understand the barriers women face in accessing information to help them better manage their businesses. During the interview, H.E. Dr. Monique emphasized the importance of not just making information available online but also mobilizing women to access that knowledge with a personal touch.  

Watch the video to learn more 

Learn about AMI’s Business Survival Bootcamp from Justine Ntaganda, owner of La Cornicle Hotel Rubavu and Nyabihu 

Justine Ntanganda, a businesswoman who co-owns La Cornicle Hotel operating in Rubavu and Nyabihu districts, attended a Business Survival Bootcamp training organized by the SME Response Clinic in partnership with the African Management Institute. Ms. Ntanganda shared with the SME Response Clinic more about what she learned.  

Watch the video to learn more 

To learn more about AMI training offers in Rwanda, visit: Africa Management Institute