25 August 2010
Starting a business includes meeting a lot of people, and I’ve been working to set up at least one meeting per day to connect with colleagues to learn how to do business in Rwanda and how our business can support the initiatives and programs already underway. Today I met with Matt Smith at Rwanda Trading Company, a coffee exporter. I got a good primer in Customs 101, including how duty, VAT, and other taxes work. As you may recall from my last entry, MANA is exempt from VAT, and our equipment and raw material imports will also be duty free and VAT exempt. All good news in helping keep the price down and more children served. The challenge seems to be finding a capable clearing agent to help with our imports. I’m up for the challenge! Matt strongly recommended that we pay close attention to customs, taxes, and employment law (employment contracts, in particular), contracting with local experts in these areas for assistance.
I spent a little time with Etienne, my new friend who is Rwandan traffic police officer. Since the truck doesn’t have number plates (remember?), Etienne wanted to visit with me after I dropped the kids off from school. Though his English and my French were both somewhat limited, we did manage to talk for about 15 minutes. It’s clearly illegal to drive a vehicle without number plates, but he left me off the hook when I told him that I would have the plates within one week. I hope to get the paperwork I need from our U.S. office so I can complete the business registration, register the vehicle, and get the number plates!