Interview: Justin from Impact Route Rwanda

Interview with Justin from Impact Route

Justin is a Rwandan trainer who runs regular courses through his company Impact Route that help newcomers understand Rwandan culture and customs. You can learn more about his company on his website and you can contact him at justin.ngoga@impactrouterwanda.com.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Justin Ngoga, I am a Rwandan and living in Kigali. I am cultural intelligence certified trainer, Founder and Executive Director of Impact Route.

Can you tell us about Impact Route Rwanda?

Impact Route is a social business that exists to bridge cultural gaps, facilitate intercultural communication, and promote global engagement. Impact Route provides three main services: Rwanda Cultural Awareness Training, Cultural Intelligence Training and a Home Stays Based Cultural Immersion Program.

What made you decide to start this sort of a business?

I spent eight years working and consulting with study abroad, gap year, volunteers programs, and with international organizations that have multicultural teams. During that time, I witnessed a lot of conflicts and problems resulting from cultural differences. At the time there was no organization providing intercultural training to help with all these challenges and, from that desire of bridging that gap, Impact Route was born.

Have you ever run a business before and what has been the experience like so far?

I had run no other business before this. Impact Route is my first business and the experience has been amazing so far. Along the way I’ve made a lot of business mistakes, learned a lot, and have had a great response from the participants attending my trainings and programs. I’ve also made some great connections and have established a network of global intercultural professionals.

What is your main role in Impact Route Rwanda?

Impact Route is still a young organization and I am the only full time staff. Therefore, I do almost everything in the organization. I design and develop programs, create content, and deliver trainings.

Can you tell us more about the cultural training sessions?

We have three programs at Impact Route:

Rwanda Cultural Awareness Session

This training seeks to help internationals visiting, living or coming to work in Rwanda to understand and appreciate Rwandan cultural values, perceptions and mannerisms. The aim is to, in turn, reduce cultural shock severity while enabling them to more effectively integrate in Rwandan culture. At the end of the training we expect participants to understand and see the difference between Rwandan culture and their own and effectively understand, communicate, and relate well in Rwandan culture.

Cultural Intelligence Training

We consult with universities, companies, and NGOs to provide cultural intelligence training to build their workforce capacity to effectively relate and work with coworkers and clients from diverse cultural backgrounds

Home Stays Based Cultural Immersion Program

We work with gap year, semester abroad, volunteer programs, mission trips, and organizations to provide rich home stays based cultural experiences. Our program provides a guided host family experience, cross cultural classes, language sessions, and one on one cultural adjustment sessions. The aim of the program is to promote global connection and friendship and to build the intercultural skills of both the participants and host family members

Where did you get the idea for this?

I worked for the Peace Corps back in 2012 as their language and cross cultural facilitator and consulted with VSO. I was also the director of training and development with One Acre Fund and later I was the country director for Kivu Gap year. The experience from all these positions has inspired me to start an intercultural training program.

Who are your main customers?

My main customers are international corporations, NGOs with multicultural teams, universities, gap year programs, study abroad, mission trips, and individuals relocating to Rwanda.

What has the response been like so far with your course participants?

The response has been fantastic. Great feedback of what is good and areas I should improve to make the trainings even better. My trainings are constantly improved from participant’s feedback.

What are some of the things foreigners do that can be culturally insensitive?

I would say that Rwanda has a loose culture, this means that social norms are flexible and there are not a lot things you could do and be in trouble. But here are two things you should avoid: 1) asking people about their ethnicity and 2) criticizing the authority in public. You can find more cultural awareness tips  in my book ‘Rwanda Cultural Awareness, A Guide to Understanding Rwandan Culture’ (available at Ikirezi and Charisma book stores).

What do you expect for the future of Impact Route Rwanda?

I hope that Impact Route will be the front gate for all internationals coming to visit, live, or work in Rwanda and the leading intercultural training program in East Africa.

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.