The brave bit to me is to leave your comfort zone in such a decisive way. Feel free to disagree, I'll call you modest and brave ;)
How do you do it? What scares the hell out of me is the future. What happens if things go sour? How do I know I can actually be a good programmer or entrepreneur? How do I save up for my pension (I am 27, that might seem premature I know) if things go bad?
As for the climate, I can say that in Rwanda it is amazing. Pretty much beautiful weather every single day. It's near the equator, but at elevation. So it hovers around 80 degrees most days with a gentle breeze. It can get hot in the middle of the day, but not uncomfortably so. Rainy season brings torrential downpours for an hour or so twice a day -- which is always welcomed.
To be honest, Kigali is one of the easiest places to do this in Africa (if not the easiest) when looking at all factors, so we are bit spoiled in that regard. I was surprised, when talking this over with my wife she was on board right from the beginning and even moved here sight-unseen. So, I'm grateful for that. Having kids also adds the extra hurdles of finding schools and such, but nothing too difficult.
Is it safe for me to move to as a woman? Is it safe for me to bring my wife and kids? These things are often relative.
My business partner, Eric, moved his family here, two young kids and his wife. Moving at night, even as a woman is very safe and commonplace in most parts of Kigali. It really is ridiculously safe here by any standard.
As an example, I am much less concerned about female friends of mine walking around alone at night in Kigali than I am my neighborhood back home in Seattle. (granted I lived in the CD which is higher crime, but still)
Is it safe for me, a woman, to visit there with my wife and kids? We've ruled out most of Africa in our globe trotting, but have really missed it.
I would say if you are visiting it wouldn't be a problem, definitely wouldn't worry from a safety point of view. If you were planning on moving here then I honestly probably wouldn't recommend it, not because of safety, but just that you would be going against the grain.
Great project anyway, very inspiring!
But like I said, after years of gouda, even cheddar starts seeming like an incredible delicacy. I even like gouda, you just need some variety!
More on the consumables side, how's the coffee?
That might sound like a bad thing but it is actually one of my favorite things about living here. You are just completely separated and freed from the crazed consumer culture of the States, just because none of it is available. And you don't realize how much that frees your head space (or at least mine) until you experience it. It is a fantastic place to just get work done because there is very little to distract you, in every respect really.
Coffee is pretty great if you buy the good stuff, though really the very best gets bought up and exported.
Both of those pretty much preclude doing anything ecommerce related
In some ways the academics are a step down and in others they are step up. For example, some of the subjects can be a bit rote, but my youngest has half of his classes taught in french (even though we are not french speakers). On the whole we are quite satisfied with their school. We also remind ourselves that as humans, we learn in so many ways and having our kids experience life in Rwanda (or anywhere outside of America for that matter) is one of the finest gifts we can offer.
Only if they had Chinese schools where I am . . .
Their long term goal is that with the entire population someday being fluent in Mandarin the area will become the first choice for Chinese manufacturing firms setting up plants in the U.S.
Still, very awesome.
Being a "Mzungu" ("rich" person- note I'm not really rich, but am compared to most Rwandans) was definitely something I didn't expect. For some reason, I had no expectations about class prior to going.
It's really cool that you started this company there and are looking to help Rwanda from the inside out. Good luck to you- if (when) I go back to Rwanda, I'll be sure to come check out kLab.
(Note: I happen to be American. But that doesn't mean I automatically think that the whole world should use our products and services.)
Amazon provides a great product and has never let us down, if an East African competitor pops up and does the same, I'll move in a heartbeat.
They want working, reliable software for their users and Amazon can help them provide that. Some decisions are practical not political.
The three countries you list are very very different from Rwanda and from each other, so it is hard to comment on that. In many ways South Africa has more in common with California than it does with Rwanda.
Have you seen any positive changes in ICT ed from the Carnegie Mellon program that started there?
It is early days still for CMU, they are only just starting their second year, but I think their influence here and in the region will be huge, mostly because there just aren't many (any?) other top tier universities here. Their program isn't straight CS, but it does offer CS courses and the profs are top grade, so the graduates will be head and shoulders above others in the region.
The long term impact of that could be pretty huge.
Was it easy to get a work permit / visa for Rwanda?
At this point, Nairobi has more going on in it's tech scene and certainly a more mature market to sell into, but you are right, it's definitely not as safe and transparent as Kigali.
From a purely administrative point of view it has been very easy and predictable, well, no harder really than the states that is.
Most people not at kLab get mobile data connections that in good areas when it's working well can get downloads between 200KBs up to 1MBps (those are bytes, not bits) depending on the time of day. Up oftentimes is about the same as down. It's not heavily throttled as you see in many other countries. These data plans are also very cheap.
Really, the biggest problem here isn't so much the speed these days, it's that the connection occasionally just stops working altogether.