Rwanda wants to build a middle class economy. Presently, Rwanda has significant limitations. It is an underdeveloped nation. Its economy has a per capita income of only $508. Out of 208 nations, it is rated only the 198th best developed nation. As dire as the statistics are, in a social media era, Rwanda could very easily, and very quickly, create a successful economy through good branding. In our social era, severe limitations can easily be overcome. This is why Rwanda should be studied as a benchmark in quickly creating a brand.
The In the social media era, branding is critical. There is just so much content and so many products that it is hard to differentiate among the products. Differentiation is critical because you want people to buy your product and not someone else’s. If you have a bad brand, it is hard to be successful in a social media era. Social media is viral. If you have a bad brand, word gets around. When you have a bad brand, you must quickly turn that bad brand into a good brand. How is this done? The nation of Rwanda is a benchmark for rebranding. To rebrand, you link your bad brand to that of a good brand to create credibility.
When people think of Rwanda they think of two things. In 1994, Rwanda was the scene of one of the worst genocides in history. In one month, 1 million people were killed. This devastation still affects the country. There are few adults in Rwanda. Half the nation is under 16. The nation has no important minerals, like oil. To Americans, most of images of Rwanda are constructed by the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, which graphically portrays the Rwandan genocide. Don Chreadle received an Oscar for this performance. It is very hard for Americans to free themselves from this image.
The second thing that Rwanda is known for is Gorillas—which are almost extinct. The brand of Rwanda revolves are death and extinction. If you were an entrepreneur, would you locate your operation here? Do you think that you would have the ability to make money if you locate in the Rwandan market? This is the challenge that Rwanda must overcome.
Rwanda does have a President who is visionary, Paul Kagame. Even his presence creates significant branding problems. There are some lingering questions about Mr. Kagame’s role in the genocide.
President Kagame does have a plan and he has a vision. His vision is that Rwanda will develop a middleclass market economy. President Kagame understands that he must attract investors to his country. He realizes that the only way that his nation can ever succeed is that if can he attract entrepreneurs who are involved in significant growth technologies. These type of entrepreneurs are necessary to develop the huge job base that is necessary if Rwanda is become a player in the global economy.
President Kagame understands modern branding. President Kagame understands that a brand is created through vision. People have to be moved, personally, by their brands. Social media branding is the creation of brands that develop a personal relationship with their customers. President Kagame understands Rwanda’s brand must create a personal relationship with investors.
President Kagame understands that to create the brand that Rwanda needs, he is going to have create a strong relationship with a co-brand that has a strong reputation around the world. The group that Mr. Kagame has decided to do this with is American Evangelicals.
Evangelicals have credibility. They have large networks. They also are people who are willing to personally offer their services at no or little cost. Evangelicals see their business life as mission as well as a means to make money. These people come to Rwanda for the long haul, which is what is needed if Rwanda is to develop into middle class economy.
Evangelicals evangelize. They have large business, social, and personal networks. They have access to capital. When evangelicals come, they also influence their friends to come and to create their businesses. This is very viral. Evangelicals have great credibility. Perhaps the best known Evangelical in America is author-Pastor Rick Warren. Rick Warren has become a personal friend of President Kagame. Rick Warren has written a best-selling book. He is well known in many networks in the United States. He is in a position to influence people, who ordinarily would not be interested in Rwanda.
If an American entrepreneur received a call from Rick Warren asking them to locate a business in Rwanda, the call would have great impact. This is about relationships. Relationships create brand, networks, and new products in the social media era. President Kagame realizes this in creating relationships with Evangelicals.