Accepted paper:

'Shibuka': using a public-private partnership to support social enterprise development in Rwanda


Vincent Rich (University of Westminster)
Darrell Kofkin (University of Westminster )

Paper short abstract:

This paper is built around a case study of a project supporting social enterprise development in Rwanda, which is used as a vehicle to explore the contested nature of public-private partnerships more generally. It highlights the practical and institutional challenges and how these might be overcome.

Paper long abstract:

The purpose of the paper is to critically reflect on the challenges of PPPs in a developing country context, using as a case study a project initiated by University of Westminster in 2017. The project involved teams of students from the UK and Rwanda working collaboratively on the development of sustainable social enterprises. The University of Westminster entered into agreements with the University of Rwanda, the country's only public sector university, the Business Development Fund (BDF) and, from the private sector, the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD). This pilot project has subsequently led to the development of a broader programme for Rwandan entrepreneurs, known as 'Shibuka'.

Rwanda is seen as an economic 'success story' in Sub-Saharan Africa, with GDP per capita now growing by over 7% per year (World Bank, 2018). The Government of Rwanda, a part of its National Strategy for Transformation (2018-2024), expects the catalyst for growth and poverty reduction to be an emerging 'middle class' of Rwandan entrepreneurs. This project revealed many of the possible challenges, not least the institutional barriers and limited support for entrepreneurship development in the 'formal' sector. Lessons from the project included the necessity of cross-cultural collaboration, the importance of stakeholder engagement in obtaining local commitment and the need for effective communication to ensure that partner needs were being addressed. The paper uses a mixed-methods approach to explore how issues of power and inequality were confronted, to reveal the contested nature of PPPs and make recommendations for future PP projects of this kind.

panel D4
Partnerships in practice: power and inequality in development partnerships with the private sector