OKLA. CITY —
Rwandan ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana and Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb were among the dignitaries appearing at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference at Oklahoma Christian University Aug. 2-3.
The second-annual Entrepreneurship Summit, organized by the Emerging Leaders and Entrepreneurs of Rwanda, provided an opportunity for more than 200 college students, entrepreneurs, investors and leaders from the U.S. and abroad to connect and network.
Friday’s keynote speaker was Scott Moody, Managing Director of First Talent Ventures, Venture Partner at Stonehenge Capital and Co-Founder AuthenTec. He spoke on, “So, You want to be an Entrepreneur? Good luck with that.” He told audience members that 2 million businesses start a year and seven years later 10 percent still exist.
Venture capitalists will look at five to six new businesses out of each 100 they come across, but will only fund two or three of those, Moody said.
“These investors only get money back 40 percent of the time,” Moody said.
Moody shared the Top 10 keys to being an entrepreneur with audience members. He said Rwanda is a “Green Field” of opportunity and that the students should replicate the models.
“The challenge is to solve the problems that are out there,” Moody said. “The opportunity is to bring services, products and capabilities to the people.”
He told the students to be realistic and to solve a real problem.
“Very few companies end up doing what they started out doing,” Moody said. “Know your market, get a job, and I strongly recommend getting an internship.”
He told the students they were their biggest investor in time, money and relationships.
“By far you are the biggest investor in your business,” Moody said.
Think big, he told the students. “You may start local, but you don’t have to stay local.”
He added the students needed a co-founder when starting a business and they needed to build a team by hiring smart team members.
“Ideas are worthless, only the execution counts,” Moody said.
He closed with, “Keep it all in perspective, work is not all that is important,” Moody said. “God first, family second and love what you do each day. Love the game.” He then shared I Corinthians 15:58 with the students, “In the Lord your work is not in vain.”
Moody said it is not about you or the work you create. “At the end of the day it is the number of people you touch in your life.”
ELE Rwanda has received numerous honors, including the 2012 Oklahoma Innovation Prize from Creative Oklahoma and Sandridge Energy and the Journal Record’s 2012 Creativity Award.
“Creative Oklahoma is so pleased to partner with ELE Rwanda on a wide spectrum of projects that encourage and advance creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in both Oklahoma and Rwanda,” said Susan McCalmont, president of Creative Oklahoma. “The ELE Rwanda Entrepreneurship Summit is an important initiative bringing some of the most entrepreneurial minds together from both regions to learn how to generate ideas of value that can be translated into economic generators for the regions.”
“The Summit is a converging point for young students and the Oklahoma community to engage in topics of creativity and innovation and how it can spur development,” said Timothy Kaboya, chief operating officer of ELE Rwanda.
Rwandan students at Oklahoma Christian University began ELE Rwanda in 2011 to improve youth innovation and entrepreneurship.
ELE Rwanda’s vision connects to the goal of the partnership between Rwanda and Oklahoma, which started in 2006 when Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Oklahoma Christian worked together to create OC’s Rwandan Presidential Scholars program.
Since that time, more than 100 of Rwanda’s brightest students have come to Oklahoma to pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Oklahoma Christian.
“The participation of the Oklahoma community in the ELE Rwanda Summit will make a significant difference in the future of Rwanda,” said OC president emeritus Mike O’Neal.
Scheduled speakers included Michael Fairbanks, chief executive officer of Seven Fund, Dale Dawson, founder and CEO of Bridge2Rwanda, and TEDx speakers such as David Burkus, Nathan Mellor and Ken Parker. Parker, a 1983 OC graduate and member of Oklahoma Christian’s Board of Trustees, is the CEO of NextThought, a collaborative educational technology company.
The conference featured panel discussions, a symposium on innovation, interactive workshops by creativity experts, presentations by contestants in the ELE Rwanda Business Plan Competition and exhibits showcasing innovative initiatives.
A cultural show with traditional dancing by Inganji and performances by renowned Rwandan artists was performed both Friday and Saturday.
THE SCHEDULE for Saturday’s events can be found here: http://www.elerwanda.com/about-10-schedule. For more information, go to elerwanda.com.