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Business Opportunities Kenyans Pursue in Rwanda
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Business Opportunities Kenyans Pursue in Rwanda


Over the years, Rwanda has earned a reputation for being open and receptive to foreign investors and entrepreneurs. This has made Rwanda an increasingly attractive destination for Kenyan entrepreneurs seeking business opportunities, particularly in the tech sector.  

Renowned for its openness to foreign investment, Rwanda has strategically marketed itself as an investment hub, enticing entrepreneurs with a range of incentives. For instance, according to the VisitRwanda website, the country requires no minimum capital for new investors registering their projects at the One Stop Center.

This article will explore the process of starting a business in Rwanda, the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a business there, and discuss five lucrative business opportunities that Kenyans can explore in Rwanda.

Read Also: Business Opportunities Kenyans Pursue In Tanzania

What Do You Need To Start A Business In Rwanda

Given Rwanda's status as a member state of the EAC, you have the right to establish a business in Rwanda and engage in economic activities under the East African Community Common Market (Right of Establishment) Regulations

To kickstart your business venture in Rwanda, you can take advantage of the streamlined process facilitated by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). The RDB has implemented an efficient online registration system to simplify and reduce the time associated with the registration process.

The initial steps involve applying for business registration and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate through the online platform. 

Your application package should include an application letter addressed to the CEO of RDB, along with a comprehensive business plan or feasibility study demonstrating the viability of your proposed venture. Additionally, you'll need to provide documentation proving the legal status of your company and any relevant licenses required for your intended business sector, as well as pay the registration fees.

Once your application is submitted, you will receive a notice of acceptance or refusal from the RDB. If your application is approved, you will be issued an investment registration certificate, paving the way for the next phase of establishing your business in Rwanda.

Following the investment registration, you'll need to apply for permits and officially register your business through the iRembo portal, which serves as Rwanda's equivalent of Kenya's eCitizen platform. 

As an EAC citizen, you'll also need to secure a work permit to commence operations in Rwanda legally. Fortunately, Kenya and Rwanda have abolished work permit fees for East African nationals. The work permit is typically valid for two years and can be renewed.

Read Also: How to Start a Business; Step-By-Step

Pros and Cons of Starting a Business in Rwanda

Starting a business in Rwanda offers numerous advantages, but it also comes with certain challenges. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons:


  1. Regional Integration through EAC and COMESA: Rwanda's membership in the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) provides access to broader markets, facilitating trade and economic growth.
  2. Investment Incentives through RDB and Tax Holidays: The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) offers various incentives to investors, including tax holidays and streamlined processes for setting up businesses, making it investor-friendly and conducive to business growth.
  3. Political Stability: Rwanda has experienced relative political stability in recent years, which is crucial for business operations and long-term planning.
  4. Growing Economy: Rwanda has sustained economic growth over the past decade, driven by sectors such as services, agriculture, and manufacturing, offering opportunities for business expansion and profitability.
  5. Infrastructure Development: The Rwandan government has invested significantly in infrastructure development, including transportation, telecommunications, and energy, which enhances connectivity and reduces operational costs for businesses.
  6. Untapped Investment Opportunities: Rwanda's economy offers various untapped investment opportunities across sectors such as tourism, technology, agriculture, and renewable energy, providing potential for innovative ventures and high returns on investment.


  1. Landlocked Country: Being landlocked limits Rwanda's access to seaports, increases transportation costs, and potentially affects trade competitiveness.
  2. Relatively Small Population: Rwanda has a relatively small population compared to other countries, which may limit the domestic market size for certain businesses.
  3. Language Barrier: While English and Swahili are spoken, language barriers may still exist for businesses operating in Rwanda, especially those targeting rural or less-educated populations primarily talking Kinyarwanda or those who speak only French.
  4. Regional Instability: Despite Rwanda's internal political stability, regional instability in neighbouring countries like DRC could have spillover effects on security and trade, posing risks to businesses operating in the region.

5 Business Opportunities in Rwanda

ICT Services 

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) services encompass many businesses that use digital technologies to facilitate communication, data management, and information exchange. This sector includes services such as software development, IT consulting, digital marketing, telecommunications, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and more. 

The Rwandan government has strongly committed to developing the ICT sector as part of its vision to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy. Initiatives such as the SMART Rwanda Master Plan and the establishment of institutions like the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) provide a conducive environment for ICT businesses to thrive. 

There is a rising demand for ICT services in Rwanda, driven by increasing internet penetration, smartphone adoption, and digitalisation efforts across various sectors, including finance, education, healthcare, agriculture, and international technology companies setting up their Africa and regional headquarters in Kigali. 

Kenyans can build a physical presence in Rwanda by establishing a local office or partnering with local businesses. 

Event Management and Entertainment 

Event Management and Entertainment business involve organising, planning, and executing various events such as weddings, corporate events, concerts, festivals, conferences, and other social gatherings. This industry also encompasses providing entertainment services such as live music performances, DJ services, dance performances, and other forms of entertainment to enhance events. 

Rwanda's economy has been experiencing steady growth, leading to an increased demand for professional event management and entertainment services. The country continues attracting more business conferences, cultural events, and social gatherings, thanks to the government's Meet In Rwanda initiative and the construction of 18 convection venues that can host more than 5,000 delegates at a time.

Kenyan entrepreneurs interested in this market should conduct thorough research to understand the local business environment, culture, regulations, and consumer preferences related to events and entertainment. From there, they can tailor their services to meet their target market's specific needs and preferences, which can include corporates, tourists, and individuals looking for services like wedding planning. 

Environmental Conservation 

Environmental Conservation involves initiatives to preserve and protect natural resources, ecosystems, and biodiversity. This can encompass activities such as eco-friendly product manufacturing, waste management, conservation tourism (eco-tourism), reforestation projects, and sustainable agriculture practices. 

The Rwandan government's commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development makes it a prime destination for conservation efforts and eco-tourism business. Initiatives such as the Rwanda Green Fund and the Green Investment Strategy were created to foster the growth of green investments in all sectors of the country's economy. 

Rwanda also has a developed eco-tourism sector, which creates opportunities for eco-friendly accommodations, guided tours, and conservation-focused activities that Kenyan entrepreneurs can venture into.

Sporting Goods and Recreation 

Rwanda has been experiencing a growing interest in sports and fitness activities, driven by initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle and sports participation among the population. There is a demand for sporting goods, fitness equipment, and recreational products to support this trend. 

In 2016, the government introduced monthly car-free days to encourage running, cycling, jogging, and simple walkouts. The Rwandan government has been investing in sports infrastructure, development programs, and initiatives to promote sports participation and excellence at the grassroots and national levels. 

Together, these initiatives provide opportunities for businesses to cater to the needs of young athletes, sports enthusiasts, and fitness-conscious individuals in the country. 

Kenyan entrepreneurs can jump on this trend to start businesses that provide recreational services such as sports facilities, fitness centres, adventure tourism, and open stores to sell sports apparel and equipment.

Financial Services 

Rwanda has prioritised financial inclusion as a key policy objective to promote economic development, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth. The government has implemented various initiatives and regulatory reforms to expand access to financial services and attract investors into this sector. 

As a result, Rwanda's fintech ecosystem is evolving rapidly, with many fintech startups, digital payment providers, mobile banking platforms, and technology-driven financial services disrupting traditional banking models and expanding financial access. 

Kenyan entrepreneurs can jump into this ship by providing a range of financial products and services to individuals, businesses, and organisations, including banking, lending, insurance, investment, wealth management, payment processing, and financial advisory services. 

If this is an industry you are interested in, consider conducting a market analysis to identify market gaps, underserved segments, or unmet financial needs where your business can offer value-added products or services.

Read Also: Should You Start a Business This Year?


Kenyans have been exploring various business opportunities in Rwanda, drawn by its conducive business environment and promising economic prospects. However, when venturing into business in Rwanda, avoiding certain pitfalls is crucial. 

Firstly, do not overlook local regulations and cultural nuances, which can lead to unnecessary complications. From the offset, familiarise yourself with Rwandan laws and customs, as this will be essential in navigating the business landscape effectively.

Secondly, don't underestimate the importance of building strong local partnerships, which can hinder your business's success. Establishing relationships with Rwandan stakeholders and communities is vital for gaining trust and support in the market.

Lastly, remember, in every business venture, setbacks are inevitable, but being flexible and persistent is crucial in overcoming obstacles and achieving long-term success.

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Farah Nurow is an experienced Content Writer who enjoys writing creative and educative articles meant to provoke readers' thoughts. He loves sunny weather and thick books. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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