Louis-Antoine Muhire, is a Rwandan who made a new life in Canada as a Police Intelligence Officer. However, in spite of his success there, he decided to return to Rwanda to build a better remittance system, inspired by his own frustration sending money back home.
After three years of work, his company, Mergims, has now raised 4 rounds of funding and is valued at 5 million US dollars. Along the way he learned a major lesson about where to spend money which totally changed his perspective on his business. Here’s that story:
I had only about $10k dollars when I arrived in Rwanda. But when I came, I lived a lifestyle of someone who was from the West. Big house, big cars, everything was big.
When I left Canada it was winter so I had all the clothes, so in Rwanda I start buying things for a hot country. So I realized I have spent a lot of money on things that really have no value for my company. I have bought nice shoes, nice clothes for the beach and stuff like that. And in three months I was out of money. So quickly I realized, I started looking to other successful people like Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs
I see that Steve Jobs has one jeans and one black t-shirt because it was, I don’t know, busy too much. It was a waste of money. And as the fact I ran out of money totally, totally have zero money in my account for one month and went through a very stressful moment, it gave me a sense of value for the money I’m getting.
And from that I commit myself to really buy 3 shirts, that’s my 3 shirt story. Like three white shirts and three black or blue, dark ones, and three pair of shoes and I know those are international standards, wherever you go you don’t look badly dressed or extremely well dressed.
To me that question of waking up, trying to see how much you can pay for clothes was over. It saves me money because now every money I get I invest in my company. And that’s what I was saying, because if someone has family, relatives that are depending heavily from his income, he has to obtain their support before, otherwise it will be very difficult.
Today, whenever I’m spending money I have to think three or four times, do we really need this actually, do we really need to, because I remember the first 9 months was extremely painful for me. But, yeah. That was the relationship, I was lucky to have him come a little bit late but helping me. Because he could have said, “you know what, I lost that 20k, you’re part of the 90% I’m have to lose, next!”