“We don’t want any investor to go there and exploit the resources, we want to give it back to the community,” Ruzibiza said. “That can improve the income of the farmers and rebuild the country.”
Although he was born in Burundi (his parents moved there to flee the impending genocide in Rwanda), Ruzibiza’s family is from Rwanda and he maintains connections with relatives and friends there. His trips back have allowed him to see firsthand the effects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which government-supported Hutu groups killed 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days.
Rural areas were hit especially hard, Ruzibiza said. Without the economic benefits of urbanization, their ability to rebuild is almost solely based on agriculture.
As a business major, Ruzibiza is inclined to look to the private sector rather than the government for solutions. “The government of Rwanda is acutely aware that achieving the objectives of its Vision 2020 requires a substantial contribution by foreign investors, who need to be welcomed and assisted on the ground,” said Ruzibiza, referring to the country’s massive revitalization project.
Luckily, Rwandan farmers have the benefit of being able to grow some of the best coffee in the world. Ruzibiza has traveled back to Rwanda to help Thousand Hills Traders, a Rwandan coffee farm, with their business. While in the United States, he visits roasters in the Philadelphia region to convince them to buy Thousand Hills coffees.
After graduation, Ruzibiza plans to gain experience in economic development to prepare him in the job of assisting Rwandan reconstruction full-time.
“As long as I can help Rwanda, I’m happy,” he said “If there’s profit in it, then I’m happy, too.”
—Written by Andrew Thompson
For the Fox School of Business