Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda in USA, speaks at a Bloomington, Minnesota hotel on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 during a business roundtable organized by Minnesota Africans United (MAU) to discuss business and investment opportunities in the East African nation. Looking on is Mr. Basil Ajuo, President & CEO of MAU.
Rwanda’s ambassador to the United States was in Minnesota yesterday to promote her country as an ideal investment destination.
According to the U.S. Trade Office, trading of goods between the U.S and Rwanda totaled $122 million in 2022 with the U.S. enjoying a trade surplus of $8 million. U.S. exports to the East African nation last year came to $65 million compared to Rwanda’s exports to the U.S. that totaled $57 million. No services trade data between the two countries is currently available, according to the U.S. Trade Office. The trade surplus in favor of the U.S. is a recent change as Rwanda has enjoyed a surplus for the preceding years.
“Rwanda is linked to the East African community and other countries in Africa,” said Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana. “When you come to do business (in Rwanda) you will not just be doing business with us but the entire African continent.”
A panel discussion followed a presentation on doing business on Rwanda by Amb. Mathilde Mukantabana on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 organized by Minnesota African United at a Bloomington hotel. Participating, left to right, Mr. Lawrence Manzi, Rwanda’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.S.; Mr. Abdirahman Kahin, owner and founder of Afro Deli and 2023 National Small Business Person of the Year; Ms. Nelima Sitati Munene, MAU board chair; Mr. Patrice Bailey, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Mr. Ben Dossman, Twin Cities entrepreneur and investor; Mr. Tom Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief & publisher of Mshale who moderated the discussion.
What Mukantabana would like to see is partnerships between her country and Minnesota business in areas of light manufacturing and investments that allow Rwanda to build capacity as well as manufacturing that foster value additions in sectors such as coffee which remains the country’s biggest export.
“One of the areas we are looking for partnerships and where we think Minnesota can play a role is the building of an African (Health) Center so that our people in the region do not need to go to India or other countries to get treatment,” said Mukantabana.
German pharmaceutical giant BioNTech setup a vaccine facility in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in March capable of producing up to 100 million mRNA vaccines per year once it is scaled up. The ambassador said her country’s goal is to ensure the pharmaceutical industry and the health sector in general is expanded.
The ambassador also said that lately her country has invested heavily in infrastructure that positions it as a destination for conventions and sports tourism, stressing that many international notables are already taking advantage of the opportunities presented.
“Trevor Noah was talking the other day of maybe Rwanda hosting the next Grammys since we have built the venues that can host such an event,” Mukantabana said. “We have had a number of international festivals already in Rwanda so if you are in the creative industry we welcome you, as this is something that attracts tourism and also our young people are restless and this is something they want.”
Members of the Minnesota business community attend a business roundtable organized by Minnesota Africans United (MAU) at a Bloomington hotel on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 for a presentation from the Ambassador of Rwanda on business and investment opportunities in her country. Photo: Courtesy Triumph Graphics
Mukantabana suggested that investors and companies in Minnesota get in touch with the embassy for any guidance they might need in setting up business in her country, or how to get started in their investment journey.
During a panel discussion following the ambassador’s presentation, Twin Cities entrepreneur and 2023 National Small Business Person of the Year, Mr. Abdirahman Kahin, pointed out the ease of doing business in Rwanda.
“You can set up your business there in six hours, all online, I am already an investor there and what helps them is there is no corruption, I just love it,” said Kahin.
Tom Gitaa Born and raised in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, is the Founder of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995.
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