As earlier reported in Indego Africa's newsletter, Therese Iribagiza is following in the illustrious footsteps of her Cocoki colleague, Emelienne Nyiramana, in attending Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Program. Read more below:
Indego Africa could not be more pleased to announce that Therese Iribagiza, vice president of Indego Africa’s partner cooperative Cocoki, was recently accepted into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship Certificate Program at Rwanda’s School of Finance and Banking.
Born in the Southern Province of Rwanda in 1976, Therese excelled in primary school before joining a sewing training center. She eventually relocated to Rwanda's capital city, Kigali, in search of better business opportunities, and, in 2008, became a member of Cocoki. In her leadership role as vice president, Therese is one of the chief architects behind Cocoki’s transformation into a flourishing and profitable international business. Therese is also a proud wife and mother of three girls: Anne Marie Merci (age 13), Marie Adorate (age 11), and Celine Umubire (age 7).
Coursework for Rwanda's latest cohort of 10,000 Women participants kicked off on July 20th and the word on the street is that Therese is already making quite an impression. Professor Matthew Brown, visiting from Thompson Rivers University’s School of Business and Economics in British Columbia, shared with us the following thoughts about Therese’s first day of class:
"Therese is very fortunate to be a participant in our seventh cohort here in Kigali, Rwanda, but perhaps better said is that this enthusiastic student cohort is just as fortunate to have her sharing the learning experience.
Today, Therese gave the group what amounted to a 10-minute speech about how important it is to sometimes partner with competitors to achieve mutually beneficial business goals. I told her we have a name for that sort of counter-intuitive behavior...strategic alliance. After a lively discussion on the merits and risks of such partnerships, I told Therese how pleased I was that she provided our young class with such a powerful example of the meaning of strategic thinking.
I told this cohort at the end of their first week that they were ALL being elevated to being University Students, not beginning freshman, but senior status, . . . and quite honestly, I don't think that level will be satisfactory enough for this cohort . . . they want to go higher!"
As a neat postscript to her 10,000 Women acceptance and enrollment, Therese is U.S.-bound this Fall. She will join Emelienne and Indego Africa Operations and Accounting Associate, Yves Ndashimye, stateside from Oct. 12th through Oct. 27th. The trio's trip will include meetings with retailers and designers, events at Nicole Miller’s SoHo boutique and the Rwandan embassy, and a signature dinner in their honor - "Meet the Artisans: An Indego Africa Celebration of Entrepreneurial Women."
We might very well content ourselves to sit here and say that we are very happy for you, Therese. AND WE ARE. But the truth is that you earned this opportunity through your own ambition, savvy, and hard hat-and-lunch pail work ethic. And the truth is that we have come to expect great things from you. You have only scratched the surface of what you can do. Now is your time. Stand bold.
-Conor French and Rachel Tennenbaum
(Photos: at top, Therese, along with Jacqueline and Anne-Mary, attends Emelienne's graduation from the 10,000 Women Program, at middle, Therese leads Cocoki's Pricing Committee, which also includes Beath, Melante, Honorine, Jacqueline, Anne-Mary, and Florence, in a product costing negotiation, and at bottom, a blast from the past as Therese gets her first glimpse of the 10,000 Women application)