In response to a request from the Netherlands embassy in Bujumbura to better understand the entrepreneurship ecosystem, Orange Corners and Ingenious City teamed up to conduct a mapping of this ecosystem in Burundi. Ingenious City is our leading implementing partner of the Orange Corners program in DRC. It is a place where change agents work together to develop solutions to positively impact their communities. Ingenious City also works in capacity building of entrepreneurship support organizations across Central Africa which allows them to benefit from considerable experience and knowledge.
Understanding a local ecosystem is incredibly important to fully comprehend the challenges and possibilities on the ground. With a mapping, you get to understand how the different actors function and the dynamics between them. Many steps are taken in order to conduct an ecosystem mapping.
The methodology we used was trifold: We started with a desk research on the Burundian entrepreneurial ecosystem, which means reviewing reports and analysing secondary data on entrepreneurship in Burundi. Then we gathered information through an online survey with specific questions for each stakeholder category. The last step we took was going on a field mission in Burundi for face to face meetings and focus group sessions culminating in a final hackathon with the stakeholders where we presented our findings.
Our trip to Bujumbura
The flight to Bujumbura took us through Ethiopia(!) as there is no direct flight between Kinshasa and Bujumbura. So after a long lay-over , we arrived in Bujumbura. Immediately we were surprised by the peacefulness and the lack of traffic jams, if you ever went to Kinshasa, you would understand.
A memorable experience was that we got to see Lake Tanganyika (second largest fresh water lake in the world by volume and the second deepest lake after Lake Baikal in Siberia) with its beautiful beaches and fresh fish.
Every morning we woke up at seven to have breakfast and went through the city for meetings. Our next two weeks were filled with meetings and interactions with different stakeholders: governmental institutions, entrepreneurship support organizations, and entrepreneurs etc in order to learn more about entrepreneurship in Burundi. We also had the opportunity to see the daily life of young rural entrepreneurs in their production of juices, honey and organic coal in Cibitoke – 45 minutes from Bujumbura by car – thanks to SPARK a dutch NGO.
We discussed various interesting topics with the ecosystem actors like the Burundian culture in relation to entrepreneurship, failure, and risk-taking; but also female entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial spirit in Burundi, the role and participation of the different actors in entrepreneurship, the support methodologies, the challenges they faced and the obstacles.
As interviews went by, we noticed that sharing experiences with other ecosystems could be a solution to accelerate the development of the ecosystem in Burundi. Most of the time, the problems are often the same from one ecosystem to another and solutions are already existing. We look back on a successful and productive mission where we intimately got to know the Burundian ecosystem.