Clare Akamanzi is a Rwandan lawyer, entrepreneur, politician, and public administrator. She is named amongst Forbes Africa’s 50 most powerful women of Africa, 2020.
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Clare Akamanzi is CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Member of the Cabinet of Rwanda. Prior to these roles, she served as Head of Strategy and Policy under His Excellency, President Paul Kagame. Also, for more than seven years she served as Chief Operating Officer of the RDB.
Akamanzi has 15 years’ experience in economic development; private sector growth, business environment reforms, and FDI promotion.
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Clare Akamanzi Background
Clare was born in Uganda in 1979. Her parents were Rwandan refugees. As a result, Clare had to move around a lot. Hence, she attained pre-university education in various parts of Uganda.
Akamanzi holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), awarded by Makerere University. Interestingly, she is currently the minister for Academic Affairs, Makerere University Guild. Clare also holds a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre, Kampala.
In addition, she holds a Master of Laws in Trade and Investment Law from the University of Pretoria, in South Africa. She obtained a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. In June 2018, Clare received an honorary degree in Laws from Concordia University.
Clare Akamanzi speaks English in full proficiency and French in elementary proficiency.
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Clare Akamanzi Career
In 2004, Clare started out her career at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters, in Geneva, Switzerland. Thereafter, the government of Rwanda appointed her as a diplomat/special trade negotiator at the WTO. Afterward, she got a transfer to the Rwandan embassy in London, the United Kingdom as the commercial diplomat (commercial attaché).
In 2006, she returned to Rwanda and was appointed Deputy Director-General of the then Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA). In 2008, Akamanzi became the Deputy Chief Executive Officer responsible for Business Operations and Services, at RDB. She later became the Chief Operating Officer / Deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board.
After pursuing her graduate studies in the United States, she returned to Rwanda and served as “Head of Strategy and Policy” in the President’s Office.
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Some of Clare Akamanzi Achievement
Akamanzi was a 2012 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and was named one of Africa’s Top 20 leading women in economic development by Forbes in 2013.
As CEO of RDB, Clare has contributed to the private sector growth and investment that helped expand the country’s finance, telecommunication and travel industry amongst others.
Under her watch, investment and tourism have grown. RwandAir, for example, has capitalized on its central location and tourism to become a hub for Africa. It is also the fastest-growing airline in the continent.
Thanks to her team efforts, Rwanda has climbed 150 places in the world bank’s ease of doing business index since 2006. The country was also ranked the 5th safest country in the world as well as the second easiest place to do business in Africa.
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Clare Akamanzi Quotes
“Most of the big companies are owned by men; let’s support each other as women so that we can also achieve such business success. This will not come easily, but it’s a journey we need to embark on now.”
“The pursuit of excellence is a choice available to anyone from anywhere. No matter how bad the hand that faith has apportioned to you.”
“A key role for a leader is to support and mentor the next generation of leaders and create an effective team.”
“Credibility is earned. Result speaks loudest.”
“There’s always a positive way forward.”
“Never accept the status quo. However much the odds against you. You can always aim and achieve better.”
“Never underestimate your potential to be among the best in the world.”
“Aim high and stay focused on your goals. We are not a wealthy country but we’ve built a national airline, a national broadband fiber optic infrastructure with 4GLTE connectivity.”
“Leave no one behind. Be inclusive. Whatever you choose to do in life, always remember this: involving others in designing solutions that affect them will ensure ownership and ultimately sustainability.”
“Stand for what is right and be willing to fight for it even if it’s not popular.”
“Dignity is not granted, we have to claim it.”
Awards and Recognition
- Lucius N. Littaeur Fellows Award for Academic Excellence & Significant Impact on HKS community.
- The Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award for Academic distinction and distinguished contribution to the Edward S. Mason Program and John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Public Service, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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Business Lessons From The Life of Clare Akamanzi
Obviously, Clare Akamanzi is a woman of the people. She is passionate about the government of Rwanda and that has earned her the positions she occupies today.
In business, passion keeps you going in difficult times. The journey of entrepreneurship is a lonely one. Hence, you need passion and determination to sustain it.
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2. Fail Forward
In Clare’s word, “I faced doubt, fear and sure I did make mistakes but I also learned a whole lot from them. Particularly that failure to act was more costly than the mistake resulting from not taking action.”
Therefore, failure at some point in your business is not the end of your entrepreneurship journey. Keep pushing until you achieve your aim.
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3. Age Is Just A Number
According to Akamanzi, “My main contribution began in 2006 when I was appointed Deputy Director-General in the National Investment Agency. I did not feel ready because I was only 27. I thought there had been a mistake.”
Eventually, Clare accepted the role and the rest is history. You are not too young to start your business. Your age is just a number.
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