Cooking up business dreams in Rwanda
- Name: Joella Muhimpundu
- Job title: Chef
- Company: Park Inn by Radisson Kigali
- Programme: Inspiring Managers
- Country: Rwanda
- Partners: Hanga Ahazaza, Mastercard Foundation
A start-up chef’s viral move from management to entrepreneurship
Joella Muhimpundu is 29 years old and loves to cook. As a young professional in the hospitality and tourism sector, she has made her way up through the ranks as a chef at The Park Inn by Radisson, one of Rwanda’s premier hotels in the capital city. Joella, who currently works part time at The Park Inn since Covid-19 impacted the sector, has cooked up new opportunities for herself with the help of AMI’s programmes.
With the prospect of less work and less income, she kept doing what she loves, cooking. What she didn’t realize is that it would ultimately lead her to start her own business and grow her reputation through her YouTube channel. However, Covid-19 was not the only reason she decided to start her own business.
Prior to setting out on her own, Joella – with the support of her employer – completed the African Management Institute Rwanda’s Inspiring Managers programme for emerging leaders in Rwanda’s hospitality and tourism industry, as part of the Mastercard Foundation’s Hanga Ahazaza initiative. In the programme, she learned how to set smart goals, negotiate, communicate effectively and manage employees. This experience prepared her to adapt to her new situation, and gave her confidence to start out on her own.
During the first lockdown in 2020, Joella was inspired by her friends who requested her to teach them how to cook. They were not going to work and had plenty of time to learn. She taught them how to cook using the ingredients they had at home.
Everyone loved her advice and encouraged her to start her own YouTube channel. She named the channel “Teka Par Idee du Jour”, a kinyarwanda-french title which means ‘Daily Ideas for cooking’. She hopes to teach as many people as possible and earn a living from cooking.
Joella’s channel has reached over 5,000 views and has 1,400 subscribers. But more importantly, her business started to grow, and has created opportunities for her community.
“Since I’ve started my own business, I’ve gained and worked with more than 10 different clients,” said Joella speaking to AMI in her home kitchen and YouTube studio. “My business doesn’t only benefit me, it’s also a source of income for others, including supermarket owners, suppliers who provide the ingredients for my dishes, and videographers who support me with filming.”
Joella now has two employees responsible for video production and editing and she continues to work for her former employer. In difficult times, she is defining her own path, rather than letting the Covid circumstances define her.
She encourages all professionals, especially women, to join one of African Management Institute’s programmes in Rwanda, offered to entrepreneurs and managers during these difficult times. She suggests it’s an incredible way to advance their skills and knowledge in order to develop their careers.
“I encourage all women and girls to work hard, and know that they’re able to achieve even more than people expect from them,” concluded Joella.
With this kind of encouragement, we know Joella is doing just what great chefs do, cooking up great food and inspiring everyone around her.
Small businesses also have a role in Earth Day
Green thinking need not just be a constraint on traditional business, but also a huge business opportunity. Across Africa, entrepreneurs are creating profitable businesses that make the earth healthier too.
Entrepreneurs can change the world
While few of us will ever have the impact on global thinking of a Piketty, Raworth, or Stiglitz, there are things simple business owners can do to contribute to a more just world.
In Praise of Work, a Basic Human Need
Apart from putting food on the table, work is associated with health and dignity. With dignity goes social cohesion. Large-scale unemployment is a threat to the social health of the nation.