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One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

Jean Bosco Nzeyimana wanted to improve the life of his parents and ended up helping entire communities in Rwanda as well as shaking hands with royalty.

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When he was selected to travel to the United States (US) to take part in the second edition of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), otherwise known as The Mandela Washington Fellowship, Jean Bosco Nzeyimana knew that the sky was the limit for him.

Last year, US President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship invited 500 of Africa’s brightest minds to learn new skills and see innovative entrepreneurial trends. For Nzeyimana it was invaluable.

Having grown up in the rural village of Gikongoro, in the Nyamagabe District of Rwanda’s Southern Province, from parents of humble origins, Nzeyimana’s journey to the top was out of the ordinary; especially when you consider he used trash to get there. Garbage is Nzeyimana’s calling.

In August last year, Nzeyimana met Obama, and other US state department officials, in Washington DC immediately after the US president visited Kenya to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.

A few months later, Nzeyimana presented his business ideas at St James’s Palace, in London, at an African business event called [email protected] in the presence of Prince Andrew. This event, which Nzeyimana says changed his perspective on green business, takes place twice a year and involves more than 300 CEOs, angel investors, mentors and the event’s business partners.

Nzeyimana became an entrepreneur in challenging circumstances. His neighborhood was gripped by poverty and poor sanitation bedevilled the community.

Firewood was used to cook every day. This was problematic as finding wood was daunting and burning it led to health problems. Nzeyimana felt a need to do something about it.

“I needed to be part of a sustainable solution to address lack of power and affordable sanitation and to fight poverty at my rural village in Kitabi, in Gikongoro. My solution was to try composting trash into cleaner cooking fuel and, if possible, to produce other green products too,” he says.

This led to Nzeyimana starting Habona Ltd, a company that produces 20 tons of briquettes per month, in 2013. He did when he was barely 18 and still studying at the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics. Habona currently employs more than 100 people.

“I studied business administration because I needed to lead a private enterprise that could solve myriad problems that my folks faced, especially hygiene and lack of fuel,” says Nzeyimana.

While at college, he researched how waste could be turned into green products, such as biogas, compost or briquettes. He was particularly interested in new approaches that could displace firewood or help his parents access cleaner and cheaper fuels during the rainy season, when access to firewood – the primary source of cooking – was more difficult.

With time, the knowledge he acquired from university helped him to draw up a comprehensive business plan for his project.

With barely any capital, Nzeyimana formed a small team to set up waste collection points in Nyamagabe town. The team gathered waste from people’s homes and hired vehicles to transport them to a central processing point.

Here the waste is categorized and the degradable materials are processed into manure, briquettes and biogas, while the non-degradable are turned into ornaments or sold for further recycling.

“You don’t need money to start off successfully,” he says. “A lack of funds did not discourage us in any way. Instead we needed to think out of the box in order to raise capital to enable our idea to take shape.”

When the African Innovation Prize, a continental business competition for start-ups called for entries in 2014, Nzeyimana entered and won, receiving Rwf2 million ($2,700) in valuable capital for Habona.

Nzeyimana also scooped the 2014 Young Innovator Award in Rwanda and was among 10 Africans who participated in training in New Delhi, India, on running a start-up.

By August last year, while attending the YALI fellowship, Habona was granted around $25,000 from the United States African Development Foundation(USADF)  to support Nzeyimana’s waste project.

“The grant will boost our capacity substantially going forward. We intend to employ 10 more workers and increase our briquette making capacity from 20 tons to 50 tons per month,” he says.

Habona sells a kilogram of briquettes for Rwf200 (around $0.30) to people fighting the vicious circle of poverty in Nzeyimana’s rural village.

“There is more value in that the briquettes last three times longer than charcoal of the same cost. This is not only cost effective, but is environmentally sustainable.”

Nzeyimana’s experiences in the US and Britain have led to bigger and bolder ideas.

Since his fellowship in the US, Habona has scaled up its capacity in renewable energy management. Consequently, the company was contracted to run an integrated waste management plant owned by the Nyamagabe District authorities.

At St James’s Palace, Nzeyimana learned to introduce a broader vision of his business.

“I came back charged and armed with a better vision of the potential of my abilities, including where I want to be by the end of 2016.”

The event opened his eyes to the big world of green business.

“I am in the process of setting up an office in Kigali. As an entrepreneur, it is important to spread my wings. My company is in talks with a group of local, regional and international investors to set up something with the same business model, but very huge in Kigali while expanding our operations in Nyamagabe.”

Support for Habona is flooding in.

Nyamagabe District’s Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economic Development, Immaculée Mukarwego, is a firm supporter of the company.

“The project started by Habona Ltd is very good, with a very bright future as it seeks to deal with the issue of waste in a sustainable manner and, in the process, it has a high potential of improving the overall wellbeing of the entire district,” says Mukarwego.

As part of the district’s long-term plans, a plant and dumping post was built at a cost of more than $500,000 to help Habona to increase its activities.

It’s a good start for a rural village boy who started off with nothing but an ambitious dream to fight poverty.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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