March 9, 2021

Pascal! You’ve been on board for a while now, but for those who don’t know you. Tell us more about yourself!

I come from a family of farmers in Rwanda. Growing up in a rural household, I was always fascinated by how farmers manage risks and allocate resources in their smallholding operations in spite of unpredictable cashflow. As an adult, I have worked across Africa and Europe in sectors that further derisk the livelihood of low income earners: from agriculture to healthcare, digitalization to entrepreneurship promotion. 

What will your role be at Norrsken East Africa?

As the Managing Director for Norrsken in East Africa, my role is to lead the vision of setting up the largest hub for entrepreneurs in the region. Together with our partners, we aim to support local startups to help them access capital, networks, knowledge, and international markets. 

What does the near future hold?

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital tools. As we return to normalcy, this rapid digitalisation will continue to impact how work gets done, and transform how customers and companies, citizens and governments engage and interact. In the process, new revenue streams will emerge, operational efficiency will improve but also (repetitive) jobs will be lost. Thus, the need to prepare the workforce for what is coming.  

How do you see Norrsken fit in the local ecosystem in Kigali?

In the last couple of years, brilliant entrepreneurs have been proving that Kigali can be a lucrative proof-of concept market. A city you can go to to try radical new technologies before scaling to other bigger markets. Norrsken wants to support these entrepreneurs by creating a magical space where local and international innovators can find cool working facilities surrounded by a world class support system of investors, incubators, accelerators, lawyers, accountants, etc. 

What are the keystones to making Norrsken House East Africa support local entrepreneurs in the best possible way?

Everything we do, we do it in a big way. From building the biggest hub for entrepreneurs in the region to putting together the largest network of unicorn founders, all dedicated to help local entrepreneurs win - in a big way. It is this mentality of thinking and acting big that we think can help entrepreneurs solve not only local challenges but also global ones. 

And what will be challenging? 

Finding people who are bold enough to believe that  they have what it takes to change the fortunes of Africa, and getting them to work together for the best of people and the planet. 

As we speak, the building is being built. Exciting! How do you hope to feel when you enter for the first time?

The same feeling you have when you enter a temple: Humbled by the size and quality of the building, but also energised by the faith and ambitions of its occupants. 

You get to pick three dream entrepreneurs working at Norrsken East Africa. Who are they?

  1. Tony Elumelu (used his fortune in the financial sector to launch the Tony Elumelu foundation, which aims to provide direct support to 10,000 african entrepreneurs over a period of 10 years), 
  2. Elon Musk (uses the first principles thinking approach to find practical answers to old engineering problems, advancing humanity in the process).  
  3. Sibongile Sambo (was refused a job as an airline attendant because of her physical attributes. In response, she decided to create her own airline company).   

Give us your reach for the stars' vision. Where is East Africa in 50 years?

A politically and economically united powerhouse, and a center for innovations that spur prosperity and peace across Africa.

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