When I graduated I initially hoped to come back and work in government/politics. After investigating some options I was approached by a friend who had started a company here in Rwanda hoping to roll-out laptops to people who can’t afford them through a credit –loan scheme.
Escom first started in Nairobi, Kenya and created a credit-loan scheme for civil servants. After looking at the model it was felt that this could be replicated in Rwanda considering how focused the government is on ICT development. We partnered with a telecommunications company and a bank. The telecommunications company provides internet modems, which look like USB portable hard drives; so that people have access to the internet any where there mobile company has a mobile signal. Then the bank provides the financial planning to organize these credit-loans through accounts that customers start with the bank. We, Escom Computers, provide the laptops and delivery of the laptops. We also provide service and maintenance if the laptops break down or have problems, for free. We are currently working with the teacher’s union, the doctor’s union, the ministry of defense, and the police to provide as many civil servants with Laptops. We also plan on rolling-out laptops to high school students and students receiving government scholarships to University. The final goal is to have provided at least 15’000 laptops.
My job at Escom is technically to work around the financial issues that may arise. This has mostly been creating a realistic default rate, evaluating our exposure at any given period, and working with the customers to best tailor the products that we provide. Considering I graduated with a major in Government from St. Lawrence most people find my role interesting to say the least. However, I feel my education at SLU provided me two key skills that I utilize every day at work. The first is undoubtedly the critical thinking that a liberal arts education gives you. The ability to evaluate a given set of information, reformulate it, and apply all the breadth of knowledge that you have. It goes without saying how often I meet gifted individuals in one field but quite thoroughly lost in many other areas. The second is that ability to learn from a variety of disciplines. Because of the extensiveness of our course of study at SLU when one does approach an absolutely new endeavor one does it with confidence. Your mind isn’t locked into one style of learning and you are able to adapt yourself to learn new things as situation demand.
It may seem self-evident but I never imagined I would be where I am today. However, I am grateful for all the steps that brought me here especially the education that SLU provided me.