SHIKA – The Burundian business plan competition returns to settle unfinished business

SHIKA, the business plan competition in Burundi, organized by our national partner the Burundi Business Incubator, has returned for its second edition. On December 13, 2012, 17 finalists were chosen from almost 100 applications and in spite of intense competition, Gilbert Nkezabahizi won the grand prize in the 2012 competition, 10 million Burundian francs.

Gilbert set up an innovative company – ESCEP-Bât (Entreprise du Système de Collecte des Eaux Pluviales et du Bâtiment) – building the necessary infrastructure and harvesting rainwater, which is then recycled.

The competition also saw many from the diaspora return to Burundi to take advantage of the economic growth that has been experienced in recent years. Gisele Mugisha, this year’s runner up, returned from France to set up a design firm. Mugisha Designs provides interior design and event management services, while also introducing 3D design into the market.

Third placed, Budoromyi Alain Claude will set up Buclo4 chicken house, a company that will introduce the people of Cibitoki province with a new breed of chicken. A supply chain will be set up between breeders and sellers, this will increase the income of local families who breed the chickens while at the same time providing improved quality meat on the market.

The other two finalists are; Irantije Don Tresor and Nsabimana Egide. Irantije Don Tresor is developing a modern fish farm for tilapia and clarias (African cat fish) for sale on the local market. The local production will reduce fish imports into Burundi, and contribute to the repopulation of open water bodies.

Nsabimana Egide whose company SOFABM has created a modern cooking stoves, will help clients  reduce the cost associated with the purchase of coal or firewood for households, while at the same time reducing their carbon footprints.

At the closing ceremony was also present Alain Karikurubu, who returned to Burundi from Norway to embrace his passion and set up a restaurant. Alain states the ease with which it is possible to invest in Burundi compared to Norway was the major catalyst behind his decision. « We cannot open a restaurant there [Norway] with less than $ 250,000. Here with $ 5000, you can venture.”

The aim of the competition is to institutionalize entrepreneurship in Burundi, as a means to promote economic growth. While a meaningful platform of discussion was initiated the event also provided participants invaluable networking opportunities to assist in starting or growing a business.

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