Patrick Bucyana, CEO of AC Group, a Rwandan company known for its popular Tap&Go smart card payment system, is a man with solutions, which he is successfully exporting elsewhere in Africa. Here is a portrait of an entrepreneur who is passionate about his country and his continent.
By DBM, Kigali
Patrick Bucyana, a young man in his thirties and a discreet man, already has a great career behind him. After taking advanced management courses at the prestigious Stanford Graduate School of Business – the birthplace of Google, based in California (United States) -, complemented by a course in executive management at Harvard Business School, the Rwandan is now one of the entrepreneurs who are leading the way, and making their voices heard, on the economic scene of the country of a thousand hills.
Passionate about youth development, technology and energy, Patrick Bucyana created, in the early 2010s, a first company specialized in software development and named Afnov – which will be rewarded in 2014 by the Microsoft4Afrika initiative – before launching a second energy company in Côte d’Ivoire producing 60 megawatts from a hybrid solar and biomass. That early success did not go unnoticed: solicited by the Private Sector Federation (PSF), the Rwandan employers’ association, he was promoted to the position of President of Youth ICT Entrepreneurs in the ICT Chamber of PSF. However, it is with AC group, a company operating in the intelligent transport solutions segment, launched at the end of 2015, that the young entrepreneur is definitely noticed. The “Tap&Go” electronic smart card payment system developed by his teams is now ubiquitous in the public transport system in Kigali and thus allows for smoother traffic flow and optimized operations for client transport companies. Better still, it is being exported beyond Rwanda’s borders, to Yaoundé (Cameroon) in particular.
«I have grown up to watch the men and women that built Africa and Rwanda in particular and with that I was challenged and felt like now it’s time to do my part »
“I started everything I am doing today because, I have grown up to watch the men and women that built Africa and Rwanda in particular and with that, I was challenged and felt like now it’s time to do my part,” Patrick Bucyana calmly confides. He is always discreet and humble, in the Rwandan way where it is often frowned upon to put oneself in the limelight. However, the man is a major player on the local economic scene, as the “Tap&Go” system now boasts more than three million users. This is enough to give his company a significant value and to give it the resources needed to fulfill new ambitions.
A man of solutions, he is multiplying his entrepreneurial experiences in the energy and transportation sectors, always with a focus on new technologies and how they can solve the continent’s specific challenges. Speaking about his foray into the energy sector, he candidly explains that he “got into the business when [he] realized that there was a need for energy […]. He then “ventured into this field with companies that had done it all over the continent. In short, the entrepreneur went to reliable partners to find the expertise needed to make a difference. A pragmatic and collaborative approach that earned him the position of Chairman of kLab (Knowledge Lab), Rwanda’s first start-up incubator.
“Not everyone should be an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment and if someone isn’t passionate about it, they are better off employed”
It is this experience of the entrepreneurial world that he seeks today to share with Rwandan youth, whom he represents as president of the Youth ICT Entrepreneurs in the ICT Chamber of the Private Sector Federation (PSF).
Clear-eyed about the pitfalls of the business world, Patrick Bucyana reminds us that “not everyone should be an entrepreneur. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment and if someone isn’t passionate about it, they are better off employed and even then, they can still effect change and transform their country,” he says. Before conceding ” It isn’t easy to get where we want to be […],” by giving his own example, when as a child, he wanted to become a president, then later wanted to become a footballer playing for Real Madrid.” Like what, it is possible to be a model of success and still have many unfulfilled ambitions.