International entrepreneurship in Rwanda

We are pleased to share the research paper of Dr Andrew Ssemwanga and Mr David Gatoya as an external contribution to the HDRI. It is formally entitled Factors that influence the role of expatriates in international entrepreneurship: a case study of Rwanda.

Download the study


International entrepreneurship is considered by many to have a great potential for socio-economic growth and development. This research paper explores the role of entrepreneurs who are expatriates in Rwanda’s economy. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in this country lags well behind that of some of its neighbours. Potential and current investors cite a number of hurdles and constraints, including very high transport costs, a limited domestic market, limited access to affordable financing, inadequate infrastructure, ambiguous tax rules, and an under-skilled workforce ill-suited to the needs of foreign investors This study is concerned with how such constraints can affect the efforts and benefits brought about by entrepreneurs who are expatriates.

The study aimed at examining the role of expatriates in international entrepreneurship and the factors that influence this role, in view of making appropriate policy recommendations that will improve the role of international entrepreneurship.

Basing on a qualitative research design, data were collected by means of a questionnaire targeting 60 expatriates involved in various businesses such as manufacturing, trade and services in Rwanda.

The findings of this study indicate that existing theories on entrepreneurship that are mostly embedded in a local paradigm may not necessarily extend to international entrepreneurship. The study provides some insights on the gender, education, language, income sources and business experience as they relate to international entrepreneurship. It also shows that although international entrepreneurship can bring several hosts to a host country, these benefits are not to be taken for granted because there can be negative impacts as well. In addition, the study shows that by creating conducive technical and social-cultural environment, the benefits can be achieved despite country-specific constraints such as being landlocked and high costs of doing business.

The study ends with a set of recommendations for policy makers, governments, educators, researchers and entrepreneurs for addressing barriers to international entrepreneurship and promotes international entrepreneurship in a way that minimizes its negative effects and maximizes its positive benefits.


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