Exclusive Interview with Francine Munyaneza, one of the top 20 finalists for the 2022 Africa’s Business Heroes Awards

Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Prize Competition (www.AfricaBusinessHeroes.org), the flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation to spotlight and support African entrepreneurs, has announced the top 20 finalists (https://bit.ly/3AFn67Q) for its 2022 edition among them is Francine Munyaneza, FOUNDER and CEO of MUNYAX ECO – COMPANY SPECIALISED IN SOLAR ENERGY.

ALSO READ: Rwanda’s Francine Munyaneza named among 20 Finalists for Africa’s Business Heroes Awards 2022

Below is theinterview between Top Africa News and Francine Munyaneza, Chief Executive Officer Munyax Eco – ABH 2022 Top 20 finalist from Rwanda.

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself: 

 I am a passionate Pan- Africanist – Rwandan national, educated in finance and business management in one the finest Belgium universities – Université Catholique de Louvain.

I am part of the Diaspora, who came back to my country with the dream to create a company and participate in the ambitious change of the paradigm in Africa while at the same time providing solutions with massive, life changing social and environmental impact.

My  15 years  of  “global and local” experience in the middle east ; Europe , Africa , Asia and America  working at  senior management level with top notch American corporations as well as  leading   humanitarian organizations (ICRC, MSF)  has uniquely equipped me to read and address situations where the Government , the private sector and the civil society  have to coalesce seamlessly while keeping the collaborative  outcome and  approaches concrete and economically sustainable- which is typically the case for the access to clean energy sector.

  • Tell us about Munyax Eco and why you have invested in that industry?

MUNYAX ECO is a company providing clean and affordable energy (solar) while promoting women led solutions.

While access to clean and affordable energy remains a huge challenge in Africa, it is one of the main keys to its development and alleviation of poverty.

Clean Energy is also a male dominated sector, coupled with the fact that there are also limited skills and experience among our population in Africa.

Hence the objectives when creating MUNYAX ECO was at different levels:

  • Provide access to energy to population in need
  • “Clean energy” to participate in fighting climate change
  • Provide/ create Gender sensitive training and capacity building
  • Job creations, 
  • Creation of more indigenous expertise in solar energy sector
  • You have been selected as a Top 50 finalist in Africa’s Business Heroes. How was the experience? What do you feel sets you apart from the other contestants?

Great experience, I could not believe it. While the grant money was a major motivation, along the way, we also benefitted from key community leaders. ABH is focused on shining a spotlight where finalists can not only showcase their talent and business ideas, but also inspire others to seek out entrepreneurship as a career. The journey to top 50 was filled with key lessons which Munyax Eco, and other participants can implement in their ventures. All the participants had to demonstrate that they are visionary entrepreneurs who embody innovation, resilience, growth potential and impact on Africa. The judges we were given access to are trailblazers in their own right, so the insights they shared with us were invaluable. 

Currently, more than ever, I have a clear vision of where we want to go and what we want to do within MUNYAX ECO. This vision has been brainstormed, discussed and shared within the MUNYAX ECO team, and the insights received during the judging process at ABH has also been factored in for our benefit, and for the people of Rwanda.

I consider myself lucky to be passionate and convinced in what I am doing and much more when MUNYAX ECO has a great social and environmental impact in its environment.

  • What challenges have you met in the past years that have shaped you and the company to where you are today? What challenges do you still currently face?
  • Access to finance
  • Staff skill and experience

We are still facing these 2 challenges but working actively by putting a clear strategy to resolve them which includes but is not limited to training, coaching and capacity building for our staff at all levels.

  •  How confident are you for this Year’s ABH Awards? Do you think you will make your way to the top?  

Through Africa Business Heroes, I have realized there is a lot of untapped potential in Africa. We have some of the most brilliant minds on this continent. If you look at the list of contestants who made it to top 50, you will realize all of us have somewhat goals/objectives: we are passionate about Africa, we are offering innovative solutions with great social, cultural and environmental impact, the solutions are custom made to fit the realities that come with living and doing business in Africa. 

Having said that, I strongly believe Munyax Eco has what it takes to win the grant. Energy- consumption, recycling and alternative sources of energy – is currently the hot topic globally- not just in Africa. Even though African nations have contributed the least to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and have had the smallest contribution to global warming, Africa remains the most affected.  The solutions we provide at Munyax Eco are timely and can be adopted everywhere in Africa. That is what sets us apart.

  • If all goes well, and you win some significant amount of the grant money, what are your immediate plans for Munyax? Any expansion plans?

MUNYAX ECO has very nice and deeply needed projects of Solar Cold Rooms in rural areas in order to reduce the 40% harvest lost for horticulture products. The ABH money will develop, extend, and support this challenging project. The project is really impacting low-income farmers as they will see their intense and hard work fairly rewarded.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in Rwanda specifically?

When I came back to Rwanda, without experience in business, without experience in Solar energy, just guided by self-confidence, passion and conviction, I never thought that I would be considered at this high level of competition.

Hence, my advice: believe in yourself, battle for your dreams and surely you will manage to realise what you want.

Yes, only the sky is the limit!!!!

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