The Local Business Community in Rwanda: Prospects for an Expanded Role in Economic Transformation

Frederick Golooba-Mutebi and David Booth, May 2018


Much has been done since 1994 to revive Rwanda’s private sector, but much more is still required to promote the growth of employment-intensive manufacturing and drive economic transformation forward. To date, government policy has emphasised the need to attract foreign and regional investors into manufacturing, and the most significant contributions of domestic firms run by the Rwandan local business community have been in real estate, construction and services. However, literature on global manufacturing success in developing countries points to the importance of early involvement of local firms, so there is a strong case for a larger role for local firms in the sector.

This paper, drawn from 80 in-depth qualitative interviews with members of the local business community in Kigali and up-country towns in five districts, focuses on a notable gap in current knowledge – what the community currently consists of, why it has prospered in particular sectors and not others, and how it might be harnessed in the future to supporting manufacturing.

Photo: Kigali skyline. Lori Howe via Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.