Finding the True Social Benefits to Drive a Business

Gisenyi, Rwanda
Fall 2011

Last week Julian, Juliet, and I had the pleasure of visiting our friend Eric Reynolds in Gisenyi on Lake Kivu. Eric is the founder of Inyenyeri, a Rwandan social benefit company, but he is perhaps best known for the company he started while he was in college, Marmot, the popular American outdoor clothing company. It was incredibly inspiring to spend a day with the bundle of passion, energy, knowledge, conviction, humility, and determination that is Eric Reynolds. The vision that he has for Inyenyeri goes far beyond what the business is on the surface, a manufacturer of affordable, safe, and environmentally friendly stoves that run on agro waste. Inyenyeri is a platform from which Inyenyeri customers can truly transform their lives and eventually even own controlling shares in the company! Not only does Eric have a transformative big-picture vision, but he also thinks of all the small ways that Inyenyeri can be a positive presence in Gisenyi. For example, Eric purposefully constructed the roof of Inyenyeri’s raw materials collection hub to create a large overhand under which passersby can comfortably take shelter when it is raining. After our mind exploding conversation with Eric, the SHE team returned to Kigali with a lot of new thoughts on how we can change and improve the SHE model.

You can see in the picture below Juliet’s and my attempt at documenting some of our epiphanies in a crazy web of ideas.
















This is a picture of Julian and I posing beside some of Inyenyeri’s raw materials in the Inyenyeri collection hub.

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