Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship Great Lakes (CDE), an Atlas Network partner based in Burundi, recently launched two new programs: Great Lakes Academy, which seeks to influence the climate of ideas in Burundi, and the Great Lakes Entrepreneurship Academy, which is designed to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs. CDE hopes to use these new programs to change both public opinion and public policy.
In addition to hosting more than 30 events across the country, CDE met directly with lawmakers to discuss policy reforms that will make Burundi more hospitable to entrepreneurs. Highlighting the country’s fragile economy and dwindling tax base made lawmakers especially receptive. “Our suggestion,” explained Aimable Manirakiza, Executive Director of CDE, “was that if they manage to reduce the regulatory barriers, there will be an increase in the tax base, which will be a solution to our nation’s financial constraints.”
Through their advocacy, public pressure, and education campaign, CDE was able to achieve several policy victories that are already empowering entrepreneurs and lifting up the Burundian economy. The fees, time, and documents required to start a business have been reduced exponentially, while the required funds to open a personal bank account have been totally eliminated. Additionally, the interest rate for entrepreneurs was slashed nearly in half, from 18% to 10%.
CDE has made real reform happen that will benefit all Burundians, and Atlas Network has been instrumental in supporting the organization's early development through start-up and other grants. “Since our project was based on the Atlas Network social change philosophy to achieve these reforms in Burundi,” concluded Manirakiza, “we believe these results would not have been possible without your support. With a strong relationship with Atlas Network, we are optimistic for a bright future for CDE.