Lack of information on Intellectual Property hampers young entrepreneurs

By Elias Hakizimana.

Gloria Nishimwe graduated from University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology with the bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, she tried to develop so many Software and her brand names were stolen by others due to lack of awareness about Intellectual Property registration.

Until now, the young lady met problems of how she can create a new product and becomes her own without falling in traps of counterfeit. 

“I was not aware of any strategy to protect my brands before others could make their own. I have so far tried four applications and I found that other people are using them,” Nishimwe said.

Not only this young lady, there are many more young entrepreneurs who have been running their projects while their companies did not register and not protected by the Intellectual properties resulting into late complaints after  revealing that other business owners have similar brand names or trademarks.

Alain Didier Muhizi, Head of Policy Analysis in PSF, Rwanda counts almost 200,000 registered businesses including a huge percentage of young entrepreneurs.

“We thought on the future of the country which is the youths who keep on inventing many innovations. We wanted to equip them with needed skills about how they can protect their Intellectual Properties so that they benefit them as owners. We started with 60 youths where we partnered with RDB and Experts in Intellectual Property from Ukraine University to train these entrepreneurs in this field. This is the beginning as we target more trainees,” Muhizi said.

He said that capacity building is the key that will positively impact fresh businesses after understanding the rationale of registering and protecting their Intellectual properties.

Jean Marie Vianney Habiyaremye, CEO of Cow Horns Rwanda, said that they used to produce products and keep increasing new varieties from cow horns without thinking of ownership.

“The main reason is lack of awareness of registering Intellectual properties.We have around 17 products, we are innovating new products but we are always afraid that people can still our brands,” he said.

Jean Marie Vianney Habiyaremye, CEO of Cow Horns Rwanda

Habiyaremye and his colleagues are now happy to gain knowledge about how things go in registering and protecting their brands under Intellectual Properties law after attending a one-day sensitization meeting organized by the Private Sector Federation with the support from Trademark East Africa, for youth in business through the Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs (CYE) and in collaboration with the IP office in RDB on September 12, 2019 in Kigali.

“I gained knowledge and now I should consider trade mark and registering all our products including plates, cups, neck races, spoons, jewels, rings, clothes’ buttons, etc,” he said.

Fabiola Mukundente, a young entrepreneur in TV Production, Women Online TV, said that she was also curious on how to protect a business that originated from her innovation. She said she will try to share knowledge with other young entrepreneurs especially women after taking a decision to seek for sustainable security of her business.

Alexis Tuyizere, Registration Officer at RDB,  said has handled four complaints so far in regard with Intellectual property where business people use others’ Intellectual Properties.

He calls young entrepreneurs and other business operators to come at IP office in RDB and get the guidelines about IP when they properties are meant to being registered before they put them on market.

Copyright laws of Rwanda avoids unfair competition and conflicts that can escalate between business or property owners. They protect writers’ works against stealing by unauthorized users.

The Law on protection of Intellectual Property (IP) N° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 and the Intellectual Property Policy of November 2009 in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda were set to ensure that the government protects Intellectual Property rights.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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