When it comes to starting a business or improving an existing one, the best advice always comes from fellow entrepreneurs. That is exactly what Karisimbi Business Partners offers, founded nearly 10 years ago by three Americans with a rich past in creating and running businesses.
Hope Magazine spoke to one of the founders, Dano Jukanovich.
Can you briefly give the background to Karisimbi Business Partners: when was it founded, by whom and what was the inspiration for it?
Karisimbi Partners started in 2008, as an idea sketched on the back of a piece of scratch paper at a coffee shop in Saint Ynez Valley in California. Carter Crockett, Dano Jukanovich and Greg Urquhart were long-time friends, neighbours and classmates. They were all at mid-points in their careers, having started businesses of their own or been owners and executives at various companies.
At this same point in their lives, they all felt compelled by a cause greater than themselves to quit their jobs in the US, sell their homes and other belongings and move their families (including small children) to Rwanda to start Karisimbi Partners.
Can you briefly describe the services offered by KBP?
Karisimbi Partners brings an owner’s mindset to every engagement. First and foremost, our work involves engaging deeply with our clients and taking on their businesses as if they were our own. We are disciplined to always ask the question, “if this were my money, what would I do in this situation.”
Through various strategy and tactical consulting engagements during a four-year period, Karisimbi Partners helped one of Rwanda’s largest heavy construction companies achieve 40% annualized growth. During this partnership, which is still ongoing, we led the budgeting process, helped develop and implement a performance review process, conducted in-depth project-based, variable and fixed cost analysis, assessed ERP software solutions, and developed strategic and
Karisimbi Partners does not just bring an owner’s mindset, we are actual owners of businesses in Rwanda. Along with other investors, in 2013 we started Asili Natural Oils as a greenfield agriprocessing business. In doing so, our team developed first-hand expertise in what it takes to build a local and regional agricultural supply chain, to source, import and commission processing equipment, to access public and private finance, to develop international markets, and to lead and develop teams of Rwandan managers.
Asili Natural Oils is today one of Rwanda’s leading agricultural products exporters in its products are on sale at leading cosmetic retailers in the US and Europe.
Foreign investors who are both socially and commercially motivated depend on having the right local partner to succeed in business in Rwanda. Karisimbi Partners has worked with a leading multinational fashion industry retailer to build Africa’s first luxury handbag manufacturing facility in Masoro, Rwanda. Karisimbi Partners sourced and developed a management team, acquired land and built buildings, sourced equipment and trained 170 artisans who produce at a quality, cost and level of design competitive with other manufacturers in Asia and Latin America. Their handbags are being sold in major metropolitan cities such as London, New York and Tokyo.
What type of experience and expertise does the KBP team have?
First and foremost, Karisimbi Partners team members have business experience. They have worked in operating companies, started their own ventures, and served as C-level executives in companies in Rwanda and around the world. Ours is the only professional services firm in Rwanda with leadership and staff that are an equal mix of Rwandans and expatriates. Our senior leaders each have over 20 years of experience in managing and advising businesses.
Qualifications of team members include advanced degrees from institutions of higher education such as The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Strathmore Business School in Nairobi, Kenya. We have multiple Certified Public Accountants on the team and others who boast certifications in Balanced Scorecard and Six Sigma. At the heart of each of our team members is a desire to create economic opportunity for the people of Rwanda and the region.
Your mission statement is: “To alleviate poverty, improve community, shape industry and inspire others… one business at a time”. You also call yourself a “socially-motivated management consultancy”. Does this strong social commitment influence the companies/organisations you work with? Are there criteria they have to meet?
Our social impact is in helping to create economic opportunity for people in Rwanda and the East Africa region. We have worked with clients that we know are struggling with a variety of moral challenges from the way they manage finances to employee conflicts to the quality of their products and services. We do not believe in limiting our engagements to only those clients who are without any moral inconsistencies. We believe in leading by example and demonstrating what it looks like to do business in an ethical way.
The motivation mentioned on your website is: “The love of Jesus Christ compels us to use our best where the need is greatest.” How does this shape your approach and the way you work?
The three Founders of Karisimbi Partners share a common faith in Jesus Christ. This shared world view informed their decision to start the company as they believe they have a responsibility to honor the poor, the widow and the orphan. This worldview continues to inform the company’s culture and identity.
Because of this foundation in something outside ourselves, we are willing to share the hard truths with our clients that others might be afraid to share. We are challenged to pursue projects that will have a positive social impact even if they might be less lucrative financially. We value our teammates and their families ahead of the profits of the business. Our clients trust that we have their best interests at heart.
Read this article and more in issue n° 78 of Hope Magazine.