Iragena Sodo Fidens, Managing Director of Park&Pick online trading company is a Rwandan who experienced hurdles in the business industries after leaving three giant countries to his mother nation.
His company ‘Pack&Pick’ supplies fruits and vegetable products at homes and hotels in Kigali. Its main goal is to help farmers reduce losses.
“We work hand in hand with farmers to help them take their produce to the markets and avoid post-harvest losses.” He said.
Iragena has learnt a lot about business operation in various countries including America, France and China and he is currently a Rwandan citizen in three Diasporas.
“I have spent almost eight years in foreign countries since 2006 and I came back to Rwanda in 2013 to contribute to the national development and to promote Made in Rwanda products.” He said.
In 2006, he left Rwanda to France where he stayed for two years. He continued his journey in the United States of America. In 2009, he came back in France and continued to China in 2010.
Learning from other countries
“I later took a long journey with a bicycle from China to Vietnam, Cambodia to Thailand; I made 8,000 kilometers in 100 days. I wanted to explore more and look into the lessons I had taken from America and I had to see how Asians managed to leave poverty after 60 years of struggles and they now strive for development of their cities. They have over 2 billion population and they do not have any problem relating to food insecurity. So, I wanted to link all those lessons and see what we can do for Africa and Rwanda.” Iragena noted.
Iragena received his Masters degree in e-commerce in France. He also got a masters degree in global economics from China.
“When I was 15 years old, I met a young woman of my age who was pushed by a car and fall down, she was carrying a basket of tomatoes, the tomatoes were damaged and people laughed at her, she cried. I and my brother, we helped her to collect few tomatoes and we accompanied her to the market. By then, I decided to study the value chain of agriculture produce and how to establish potential commerce,” he said.
He said that once in Hong Kong, when conducting his research during his masters lessons, he met many Chinese people who inspired him, they were all business people.
He said that he wanted to achieve his dreams. He also did a long journey on foot from Cairo to Cape town in 2012 to meet all beekeepers from Egypt. It was to know all inside the business of honey.
“I wanted to see something I can do in Agribusiness and I had to do my best to meet my objectives. When I came back to Kigali, I established four trading companies at once, the first one failed, I established another but also failed, I did marketing and distribution of goods; I also established a company based in Tourism and I bought bicycles to promote cycling culture among Rwandans. I later joined agriculture where I managed to establish a company. We planted tomatoes but I also faced challenges. After that I was employed by various corporate companies.” Iragena said.
The Dream Came True
After a long circulation in many business experiences, he decided to refresh the mind and do what it takes. He started in Kicukiro Niboye and in Gaseke to collect peoples’ ideas.
“We started with an idea and we made a survey to know what people eat, where they take food from and what challenges they face while looking for food. Among 100 questionnaires distributed, 25 came back confirming that they need quality food supply service. On July 28, 2020, I started to supply fruits and vegetables from the six clients who were ready.” He noted.
From the 6 clients, Iragena has reached 72 clients and between 600 and 1,000 permanent clients now.
“We have fruit combo product among the 16 fruits and 10 vegetables that are needed in most homes in Kigali. We are investing and training, empowering and equipping former street vendors to become food supply professionals and leave informal to formal businesses. We are doing fundraising and we welcome all people interested in having shares in our company. We need to transfer all informal skills into formal economy.
Opportunities for Rwandans in Diaspora
“The first opportunity is to live in your country, speaking a common language and have a common secret; we have a good climate, opportunities for small startups, etc. Doing business from your country is paramount and is a social startup that we cannot take for granted,” he said.
He calls Rwandans living abroad to prepare themselves to come and partner with fellow Rwandese to promote the development of the country.
The Express News