SOLIDWORKS in Rwanda – Part Six: Rwandan Entrepreneurs

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

While we were at Nyanza Technical School, we met two graduates there: Kevin Shimwa and Sam Igor. Kevin and Sam have a bright future, and they want that future to include SOLIDWORKS. They helped students keep up with the lesson and instructed them where to click, which feature to use, etc.  They were a huge help, and they voluntarily went to each school (over an hour away from their homes) by taking public transit each day on their own time and expense.

They showed us a machine they designed in SOLIDWORKS that would harvest tea from the fields – it was part of a project that the younger students at Nyanza did, and the graduate students did a project too, to help mentor the younger kids.  It is not complete, but still impressive.  They are young (20 years old), very driven, and love SOLIDWORKS.  They’ve created a company called “Guavatech” and plan to develop products that will be Made-in-Rwanda, a campaign that President Kagame implemented about four years ago.  They have spent a lot of time at the FabLab in Rwanda and I know they’re going to go far in their careers. I’d love to see them start training others on SOLIDWORKS or even become the first Reseller in Central Africa.

On our last day, they gave each of us a gift – I received a handmade bracelet, some art that is proudly hung on a wall at my house, and a lovely card. The card says: “Dear Jenn, Thank you for being with us, it’s our great pleasure for having you all this time here in Rwanda and we’re looking forward to having you back. Using the knowledge you’ve shared to us all these days, we’ll try our best to be experts. Have a safe journey in advance!! Sam, Kevin J”.

On Friday afternoon we went to the FabLab and taught the lesson a sixth time to adults there. After the lesson, we stayed for the 3-year anniversary celebration. We were happy to see that the FabLab had made such a positive impact on people there, as it is a space for the community to acquire modern technology skills. Some of the people there were designing a satellite, and others were designing aeronautical products. Olivier Nteziryayo is an aeronautical engineer, using the tools at the FabLab to make his airplane design a reality. You can follow him and see what he’s up to on Twitter at @EngDaWing. Here is one of his designs.

Lambert Rulindana is the Managing Director at the FabLab, and has a bachelors of electronics and telecommunication engineering. He is a mentor for entrepreneurs who have an idea and want to contribute to Rwanda. We also briefly met Claudette Irere, who is a Co-Founder and General Manager at the FabLab. Also present at the 3-year anniversary party was Alex Ntale who is the CEO of the Rwanda ICT, and was instrumental in the set-up of the Rwanda FabLab.

They gave us the royal treatment with three plush chairs, front and center, and made some speeches, thanking SOLIDWORKS and all the entrepreneurs who continue to make the FabLab what it is today – a “FABulous” (sorry I couldn’t resist) lab for fostering ideas and creating some amazing new products that will one day be Made-In-Rwanda.

It made me proud to know that SOLIDWORKS is making a difference in Rwanda, and we are providing people with the tools they need to expand their capabilities and increase Rwanda’s presence in the world. To all the Rwandan people who dream of creating new ideas and developing new products, SOLIDWORKS will be back in 2020!!

Jenn Doerksen

Jenn Doerksen

Jenn Doerksen works for Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS, as a Sr. Industrial Process Consultant. She has been part of the SOLIDWORKS community since early 1997, when she bought her first license of SOLIDWORKS. She has a Bachelor’s of Engineering from the University of Victoria and lives with her husband and their dogs in Vancouver BC, Canada.