Investing in Rwanda’s Future

JPMorgan and Bridge2Rwanda

On September 19, JP Morgan Chase & Co’s CEO Jamie Dimon announced an investment in Bridge2Rwanda’s Financial Analyst Training Program. Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a Rwanda-based NGO, is committed to building businesses and developing opportunities for Rwanda’s expanding entrepreneurial base.

Joining Dimon were JPMC board member Jim Crown and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. (For more on Blair’s role in Rwanda read from Downing Street to Kigali)

Recognizing the growing need for a financial backbone to support Rwanda’s burgeoning business and investment sectors, Bridge2Rwanda has teamed up with the gold standard of financial instruction, Training The Street (TTS). The program, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co, will be a five-day intensive training session for participating institutions and their in-house analysts.

Through this partnership, Bridge2Rwanda hopes to build a critical mass of financial analysts to support the inflow of investment capital into Rwanda and further improve investor perception of the country.

The announcement is not Dimon’s first encounter with Africa. In 2010, Bloomberg reported that the CEO was “incredibly impressed” by opportunities in South Africa and the rest of the continent. “The growth rate of banking in emerging markets is set to be two to three times faster than that of the United States and Western Europe where most of our investment banking is currently focused,” he said in a 2010 statement.

Dimon’s words echo a larger trend sweeping across the sub-Sahara. Between 2000 and 2008, FDI increased from $9 billion to $62 billion. Moreover, ICBC recently purchased a 20 percent stake in South Africa’s Standard Bank in 2007. According to The Economist, sub-Saharan local and Western banks’ profits (excluding South Africa) boasted $2.6 billion in 2009—on par with China and India.

However, many large western banks have yet to seriously consider Rwanda as a dollar destination.  “For the most part, big banks don’t have a presence in Rwanda,” said Bridge2Rwanda’s Managing Director Clay Parker. “This was a good way to involve JPMorgan. They are sponsoring an educational program for finance—something where they can see their impact.”

And the contribution will not go unnoticed. Over the last decade Rwanda has attracted business from Starbucks to Google, Inc. Now, JPMorgan Chase’s investment is a charge for other banks to heed.