Denver, February 25, 2011
Members of the Young Presidents’ Organisation understand the relationship between leadership, business innovation, and self-determination in a complex and rapidly changing world. You all appreciate that poverty is not just low incomes; it is the exclusion from global networks of learning, trade, and investment. It is the loss of hope, the lack of aspiration.
CEO of the Young Presidents’ Organisation, Scott Mordell;
Members of the Young Presidents’ Organisation;
Fellow panellist, John MacCall MacBain;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to speak about our experience of leadership in Rwanda.
Members of the Young Presidents’ Organisation understand the relationship between leadership, business innovation, and self-determination in a complex and rapidly changing world.
You all appreciate that poverty is not just low incomes; it is the exclusion from global networks of learning, trade, and investment. It is the loss of hope, the lack of aspiration.
We have laboured over the last sixteen years to emerge from such a place. We invested in the difficult process of post-conflict institution building, and we are achieving positive results.
Our goal is to become a nation that fosters innovation and spurs human initiative, where each citizen aspires to rising incomes, which in turn provides the possibility of good shelter, nutrition and medical care for their children.
In 1994, Rwanda was a fragile state, a failed enterprise. Over a million people lost their lives, and the economy was in ruins.
We can now look back and reflect on three distinct phases: the Emergency when we found ourselves alone; the Reconstructionwhere faith-based groups, NGOs, and bilateral aid organizations invested in the fragile miracle of peace; and the third stage, theGrowth phase, that is characterized by policy reform, sound management of remittances, and increasing rate of business investment.
We in Rwanda understand that economic growth is important for creating a strong society. Growth supports optimism for the future, tolerance, and civic engagement.
Philanthropic organizations play a role that the private sector and others may be unprepared to do. Bilateral and multilateral aid, where it supports strategies that we work together to develop, has proven to be effective. International businesses find profitable activities with local entrepreneurs because Rwandans enjoy learning and want to compete.
Partnerships are at the core of our strategy. We do appreciate the efforts of a diverse group of organizations to be part of that strategy. There is space for all who seek to work with us, but a partnership with the YPO, with its breadth of capabilities and its focus on the long term, holds the possibility of infinite returns.
Distinguished young leaders;
Over the last sixteen years, the Rwandan people, have learned to live and work together again. Peace and security have been restored, and refugees and former combatants have reintegrated into our society. Those who committed genocide and have asked for forgiveness are now doing community service, as part of the process of reconciliation. We are facing the future, together, with hope and enthusiasm.
But we have also had to be steadfast and remain focused on the job at hand. We are building modern institutions on top of traditional values and a rich cultural heritage. Our leaders are required to embody values consistent with a strong society, and to lead by example. And, they expect to be evaluated on their performance.
We understand and believe that the private sector is the prime engine of our economy; that investment creates prosperity and opportunity for our people, as a basis of the society to which we aspire.
For this reason, in our vision 2020, the private sector occupies centre stage. This is where our country is prepared to work with you, the members of the Young Presidents’ Organisation.
The areas that we are focusing on include infrastructure, especially in the energy sector, and high quality agricultural products, targeting attractive market segments. We will continue to grow our unique tourism cluster, and invest in a banking and financial sector that is increasingly recognized in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Rwandans understand that business enterprises have an important role to grow our nation. Our goal is to effectively integrate ourselves into the worldwide marketplace.
I am here today because we value the Young Presidents’ Organization for the role it plays in linking Rwanda to global networks of learning, trade and investment.
I am pleased to have been associated with the YPO for the last ten years, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our experience.