Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Indigenous Knowledge, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship in Rwanda: The Girinka Approach

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Indigenous Knowledge, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship in Rwanda: The Girinka Approach

Article excerpt

Introduction

Entrepreneurship as an economic empowerment strategy is becoming more widely studied in efforts to assist poor people escape the poverty trap. Economic empowerment strategies are increasingly shifting from a centralized top-down approach to a more widely diffused method where poor people participate in analysing and searching for appropriate responses to their economic situation. Local knowledge and local solutions are gaining acceptance as fundamental in the crafting of policies for economic transformation, especially for the rural poor. Several scholars have attempted to understudy and understand participatory development at the grassroots (Zewde, 2010; Sanderson & Kindon, 2004). The United Nations Development Program and other such institutions, NGOs and governments have severally indicated interest in focusing on indigenous knowledge and engaging beneficiaries during decision making on economic empowerment. In this instance, the government of Rwanda, a sovereign landlocked nation literally situated in the heart of Africa (75 miles south of the Tropic of Capricorn) through Girinka (a word when translated means 'may you have a cow' as thus describes a practice wherein a cow is given as a sign of respect, gratitude or as a marriage dowry), a one-cow-per- poor-family program, commonly known as 'Girinka' has succeeded in empowering several previously poor rural farmers by using locally generated systems and processes.

Girinka is founded on the traditional value placed on cow ownership as the highest manifestation of wealth in Rwanda. By giving poor rural farmers cows at no cost, the government of Rwanda has been able to raise the status of this class of citizens in the eye of the community, causing the beneficiaries to imbibe a sense of responsibility and a deep-felt desire to sustain that status. The result is that while any other economic empowerment approach might have succeeded in creating a class of better farmers, or at worse, the squanderers of government aid, the culturally rooted Girinka has produced a selection of beneficiaries who see themselves as truly capable of managing wealth according to the expectations of their community. Lack of capital is an impediment to entrepreneurship among poor rural dwellers (Buera, 2008), access to funds from the sale of cow milk, and proceeds from increased crop output occasioned by use of cow dung manure, have combined to motivate several Girinka beneficiaries - with entrepreneurial drive - to set up businesses.

For topic clarity, this paper is organized into several sections; first it begins by clarifying certain concepts necessary for the understanding of the entire work. Second, is an attempt to establish a correlation between economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, after which the notion of indigenous knowledge as crucial in crafting of rural economic empowerment strategies is examined wherein the role of indigenous knowledge in jump-starting entrepreneurship is explored in detail. Next, an overview of the entrepreneurship situation in Rwanda is explained, followed by a breakdown of the Girinka program, with emphasis on its history, implementation, impacts and challenges. Proceeding further, the paper looks at two case studies drawn from in- depth semi-structured interviews and observations conducted in the Gicumbi district of Rwanda's eastern province.

The first case study examines a cooperative of Girinka beneficiaries which has gone on to establish a manufacturing outfit, food processing industry and other businesses. And the second focuses on an individual Girinka beneficiary who has gone from a poor, malnourished, subsistent farmer to a notable entrepreneur in his community. Then it draws on lessons from Girinka to link indigenous knowledge-based economic empowerment strategies to increased entrepreneurial output on the part of beneficiaries as it also looks at the challenges to indigenous knowledge- based rural economic empowerment strategies, followed by concluding remarks. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.