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Kagame: There Is No Better School Than Refugee Life

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The association brings together 20,000 chief executives leading companies that generate $US6 trillion and employ more than 15 million people.

Founded in 1950, the organization now counts chapters in 120 countries with 19 in Africa including one in Rwanda currently led by Emery Rutagengwa.

Seven years ago, the organization awarded President Kagame with the global leadership award in 2003 and members of the organization from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and the United States have all visited Rwanda to partner on a variety of projects.

For the past decades, members of this organization have been dedicated to become “better leaders through education and idea exchange.”

It was as part of their education program that the Young Presidents Association of Hong Kong invited President Kagame to address its members about leadership and its values.

Speaking on behalf of the various Chief Executives Officers who attended the meeting, Sunil Mohanini, Chief Executive Officer of Sara Limited, explained that the Young Presidents Association wanted to learn how President Kagame got motivated and inspired to lead Rwanda from a difficult past to one of internationally recognized success.

Beginning his address, President Kagame told the young business leaders that Rwanda’s progress was a result of the deliberate effort and choice of the Rwandan people.

When asked about personal motivation, President Kagame explained: “I was a refugee for twenty seven years and there is no better school than the life we lived and the experience we had.”

Kagame was referring to the suffering Rwandan refugees endured for decades in Uganda camps before starting a rebel group that toppled the Juvenal Habyarimana leadership in 1994.

He added: “The difference our generation made was that we not only thought about what this situation meant, we acted.”

On the topic of leadership, President Kagame told the young CEOs: “Leadership is about galvanizing and ensuring that everyone involved feels part of the process.”

Throughout the dinner, Kagame answered questions from the participants ranging from the failure of the United Nations in Rwanda to the country’s continuously improving business environment recently recognized by the 2012 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report.

Ending an evening that many described as an invaluable and inspiring learning experience, the President of the Young Presidents Association Mr. T.K Chang concluded: “Thank you for sharing your journey with us.”

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