By Diane Mushimiyimana
The entrepreneur exports fresh and dry chili pepper to European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
Diego Dieudonné Twahirwa, a 30 year old Rwandan entrepreneur has been nominated for the Young Entrepreneur Awards at 2018 World Forum for Export Development 2018 (WEDF 2018).
The award is an initiative of the International Trade Centre (ITC) youth and trade programme, which aims at connecting young social entrepreneurs to markets. The programme also supports social entrepreneurship to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on quality education and inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Twahirwa is the founder and managing director of Gashora Farms, the country's leading chili export firm based in Bugesera District.
The company has contracts with more than 1000 farmers.
The firm addresses challenges of post-harvest losses by producing chili oil (branded Didi's Chilli Oil) and is exploring the expansion of its value-added product line with the production of pulp and chili powder.
He exports fresh and dry chili pepper to European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and France and the chili oil (Didi's chilli) to Geneva UK and US.
In an interview with Business Times, Twahirwa said that he is honoured to be nominated for the awards as it will boost his business venture.
"It is expected that the winner will walk with USD5,000 but I'm looking at more opportunities than just the actual price. Such platforms present an opportunity to meet with giant investors. Therefore, I hope to make relationships aiming at expanding my business in terms of export capacity," he said.
Twahirwa is competing with other seven African finalists from The Gambia, Ghana, Zambia and Mali who were also selected by the International Trade Center (ITC).
The ITC 2018 Export Development Forum will be held in Lusaka, Zambia.
At the forum, the finalists will present their business projects to a jury with the aim of receiving start-up funds to develop and expand their projects.
The seven pre-selected social entrepreneurs are Alan Chanda, from Dytech of Zambia; Chisepo Chirwa, from Out Source of Zambia; Diego Dieudonné Twahirwa of Gashora Farm Ltd, Rwanda; Omar Jallow of Green Hectares Farm of The Gambia; Victoria Muzumara, from Zambia's Shopzed; Hamadoum Niangado, of KoolFarmer, Mali; and Charles Ofori, of Dext Technology of Ghana.
The panel of judges will, among other things consider; the value of the proposed business ideas, the social impact of the project, the market potential, the strength of the team, and the financial model.
The Global Forum for Export Development 2018 will take place on 11th and 12th of September.
The summit will also look into how young people can contribute to the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).