Interview: Lauren from Get It

Lauren from Get It

I want to share this interview with Lauren from Get It, a really innovative business idea that I think a lot of you will benefit from using. You can take a deeper look at Get It over on their Facebook page.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re doing in Rwanda.

I first came to Rwanda in 2012 with Nike working for Girl Hub. I enjoyed the work so much, that three-month assignment turned into a two-year assignment. Through those two years, I saw so much opportunity for business in Rwanda, but never had the courage to start my own. As my assignment came to a close, l looked to continue to contribute to the country’s growth. And that little voice in the back of my head wouldn’t be quiet about starting an e-commerce company. So I took the plunge and started working on Get It full time last October.

Why did you start Get It?

I think just about everyone in Rwanda has had the experience of going to the store and not being able to find what they’re looking for. So I wanted to create a super easy way to shop that not only solved this problem for people in Kigali, but for anyone in Rwanda.

The first thing we realized was that we can’t rely on data or the Internet – since most people don’t use data. That’s why Get It doesn’t have a website or an app. We want to be sure that everyone can shop from Get It – rich or not-so-rich, rural or urban.

We also wanted to make it as easy as possible. So we asked ourselves, what’s the easiest way to shop? Really, it would be to just tell someone what you want, and they do all the work. So we made ordering from Get It as easy as sending us a message or giving us a call. We then deliver the order to your door.

How does Get It work?

Using Get It is simple. Just find what you want from our Facebook catalog, message us your order, and we deliver your order the next day.

What’s the hardest thing about starting a company in Rwanda?

Starting a business is hard, no matter where you are.

Certain things about Rwanda have been a challenge. I’ve spent a lot of time training my staff on things many would consider basics. Of course, the Internet isn’t always reliable. And finding good products to sell is not simple.

But equally, there are things about Rwanda that make starting a company super easy. The barriers to entry to start a company in Rwanda are really low. I started Get It with very little start-up capital – an amount that would have never worked in North America or Europe. I’ve been able to live super lean, no $150 monthly phone bill or $1,000 rent, like I would have had if I lived in a major US city.

More than anything, the market in Rwanda is ready for new ideas an innovation—there’s so much space for new businesses. It’s just an infectious place to grow a company. And the upside potential is just too huge to pass up.

What practical advice would you give to someone who is starting a company in Rwanda?

Hire an accountant fast. When you start growing, accounting can get away from you really easily. And the tax situation can be complicated – there are a lot of tax breaks (like that you don’t have to pay VAT until you earn Rwf 20,000,000 a year) and taxes (like the monthly street cleaning tax you pay at your local Sector office) for companies that no one tells you about.

Focus on your talent pipeline: finding reliable employees can be a big barrier to growth. If you need entry-level talent, build relationships with universities early. We’ve had really productive relationships with Kepler and Akilah.

Build your network: Rwanda really works on relationships. It’s hard to find a lot of the information you need on the Internet. Having a good network makes life a lot easier. Some great networks to get involved in are Impact Hub and Bigger Future.

What’s been the best part about starting Get It?

I’ve loved getting to know our suppliers and learning about where all of our food comes from. Whether it’s going to the Speranza waragi factory in Kanombe, or the Sowarthe tea factory outside of Musanze, it’s amazing how much is produced locally.

How can I order?

First, can always find our latest catalog in our Facebook photos at facebook.com/getitrwanda. Every Friday we email the selection of fruits, vegetables, and herbs available that week, along with our newest products—to get on the list, just email us at getitrwanda@gmail.com. You can also find copies of our print catalog around Kigali.

We’re on all of the major messaging platforms. You can either SMS or Whatsapp at 0782 307 254, send us a Facebook Message at http://www.facebook.com/getitrwanda, tweet or DM @getitrwanda, e-mail: getitrwanda@gmail.com or a give us a good old phone call: 0782 307 254.

In your message, just tell us what you want from the catalog. For example, a message might say, “Hi Get It, I need 2 kg of sugar, 3 litre of whole milk, and 1 kg of wheat flour,” and we’ll take it from there!

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.