Challenges Worldwide opens in Rwanda to tackle poverty and promote prosperity through private sector development


Since March 2017 a team of 18 volunteers from the UK and Rwanda have been working to promote the sustainable development of small to medium enterprises across Kigali, Rwanda.  Challenges Worldwide International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteers work as Business Support Associates and are given business consultancy training throughout the programme. Challenges are helping to improve key areas in the businesses, building a growth platform for socially-conscious enterprises.

Challenges Worldwide is a UK private sector development organisation and its ICS programme has been running since 2013 in Ghana, Zambia and Uganda.  In 2017, Challenges Worldwide expanded its programme to Rwanda to help SMEs to grow through the ICS scheme, which pairs young people from the UK and Rwanda and places them in a Kigali-based business.  Through this expansion into Rwanda Challenges Worldwide aims to increase its economic and social impact within the east African region.  Challenges have already been running their programme helping SMEs in Uganda since 2013.

While Challenges helps with on-site support, the organisation also aims to facilitate investment into the businesses it works with.  One of the key barriers to growth for small businesses in East Africa is access to finance, so Challenges is working alongside the Business Development Fund to promote investment in some of Kigali’s most exciting small businesses.

Apart from the work they do with the businesses, Challenges volunteers also organise extra-curricular community activities. One such event is an upcoming project planned in collaboration with local NGO Root Foundation, where they will be organising a job skills day with a focus on entrepreneurship and personal development.

The Challenges Worldwide ICS programme is a great opportunity for volunteers from the UK and Rwanda and Rwandan based SMEs. By working with enterprises that have a positive social impact, Challenges aims to create a global network of businesses that can disrupt and add value, with the eventual aim of granting everyone access to quality income opportunities.  Challenges are looking forward to working with the public and private sectors in Rwanda to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and contributing to the bright future of Rwanda’s businesses.


Written by Jamie Powell