Innovation: Students see business opportunity in Presidential quotes

Isimbi and Kamaraba wearing T-shirts branded with the President's inspirational quotes. (Donata Kiiza)

They are no fashionistas. They don’t aspire to be designers either. However, the two university students have been drawn into the trade as a means to an end.

Inspired by the President’s quotes, Nicole Isimbi and Bridgette Kamaraba, a couple of months ago decided to rejuvenate their hitherto dormant enterprise using these wise sayings. And their mission is to inspire other youth and help create a strong entrepreneurial base across the country as well as earn some income, according to Kamaraba.

Isimbi and Kamaraba said the idea to make T-shirts bearing the President’s quotes has enabled them to fulfill this goal.

They said branding T-shirts with these quotes does not only inspire the country’s youth, but also makes it easy to pass on the educative messages to many people. It is not only the person wearing the T-shirt that benefits, but also whoever reads that message thereon.

“However much the speeches of President Kagame are heard by public, we realised that the youth do not always capture important messages in his statements,” the 23-year-olds and fourth year students at Kigali Independent University (ULK), said in a recent interview with Business Times.

Though the duo registered a company, Ikamba, years ago, they started operations last December. They imprinted about 50 T-shirts with some of the President’s inspirational quotes, like “After all, les faits sont tetus” that was part of the President’s speech during Kwibuka20 in 2014, “Work hard until it pains because poverty hurts much more”, and “They called us a small failed state, but we refused to fail, refused to be small” picked from the June 2016 speech while the President was addressing the National Youth Council conference.


Kamaraba said the youth should be at the forefront of promoting and embracing entrepreneurship to support the country’s development objectives, job-creation and fostering innovation.

“We also target to provide new opportunities to youth in the short and long-term to stimulate employment growth,” she added.

She said the project has so far received enormous support from the public, challenging them to work even harder.

Isimbi said the T-shirts cost Rwf10,000 each, and buyers are excited about the quotes and the messages they bear.

“Our long-term project is to intensify campaigns geared at inspiring Rwandan youth to take charge of their lives, especially through economic empowerment.”


Isimbi said the project is constrained by limited funds as a start-up, noting that they may in future seek investors to inject in cash and expand the business to include other income-generating activities. The firm is currently relying on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to market their products, which they said do not reach youth in the rural areas since some are staying at school and do not own smart phones.

Other projects

Isimbi said they are working on a project called Ikamba Kindle, which will conduct talk shows in schools using some role models to inspire young people and learn about life after school, and how they can be able to realise their dreams. She said it is important for youth to build a strong foundation to influence the future and not to be afraid of trying and failing, and starting all over again.

The pair is guided by the dictum, “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts” by H. Jackson Brown, Jr, an American author best known for his inspirational book, Life’s Little Instruction Book, which was a New York Times bestseller (1991–1994).