Friday Updates

JULY 19, 2024

Happy Friday everyone!

Hoping I didn’t scare you off with that title. But stay with me…

First, a quick note. I saw some of my friends at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe last Friday. Here’s a photo. Linda Mukangoga Ndungutse (on right) is the founder of fashion company Haute Baso, and also an investor with me in Virunga Mountain Spirits (VMS). You’ll meet Linda and we’ll visit both Haute Baso and VMS.

OK, elections! A big week in Rwanda as General Elections were held on July 15.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame won with 99% of the vote in the Presidential election. This would extend his 24-year rule by another five years. He is 66 years old. He faced no meaningful opposition. Over 98% of the more than 9.5 million eligible voters took part.

Kagame has been the de-facto leader of Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, and President since 2000. He has presided over an incredible Rwandan economic growth story and helped end ethnic divisions. But he doesn’t come without controversy…mostly from OUTSIDE of Rwanda. Here’s a recent New York Times article that overviews.

I share this with you to learn as much as you’d like BEFORE visiting Rwanda. Rwandans are very protective of President Kagame. Western media will provide more balanced views. Rwandans don’t want to hear or be asked anything negative about President Kagame. It will be your job to balance what you hear (and don’t hear) while in-country and think for yourself.

Finally, a reminder that final payments for Venture Rwanda 2024 are due July 24 (60 days before departure). Please also add the missing items to your WeTravel profiles.

Enjoy the weekend,

JULY 12, 2024

Happy Friday everyone!

I’m immersing in the International Folk Art Market here in Santa Fe. It’s a worldwide celebration of artisans. I highly recommend visiting Santa Fe for this event! It even connects to Rwanda (check out my 2023 story).

I’m assembling our Venture Rwanda 2024 Guide. It will highlight each of you, as well as the people we will meet. However, I need your ABOUT YOU submissions.

Please click here for what I have so far. For past participants Marti & Bob, I borrowed from your Tanzania 2022 summaries. You can either enter in your WeTravel profile or simply email me. Please share as soon as possible as I share with our partners in our planning.

Also, I am sending a Zoom call invite for all of us for Aug 13 at 4pm Pacific. This is our chance to meet each other virtually, talk through packing and planning and answer questions. Please confirm your attendance by accepting the separate calendar invite.

Enjoy the weekend,


JULY 5, 2024

Happy Friday everyone!

And Happy Fourth of July weekend. Our friends in Rwanda are celebrating Independence Day as well!

Rwanda officially became independent from Belgium on July 1, 1962. But the celebrations are merged into Liberation Day on July 4. This celebrates the end of the genocide against the Tutsi on July 4, 1994–so this year is the 30th anniversary.

You can read more about Rwanda (and neighboring Burundi) and other Independence Day celebrations around the world in this article.

Finally, you can find the link to all Friday Updates via this link: I’ll share it in the WhatsApp chat as well.

Enjoy your long weekend.


JUNE 28, 2024

Happy Friday everyone!

I’ve added Marti Rule to our group. I’m excited for Marti to return to East Africa with me since joining in Tanzania in 2022 (she & husband Steve star in this video).

If you are a pre-trip reader, this is a great time to get started. On our Venture Rwanda site, I list several books. My favorites are below. You’ll meet Karen and Innocent during our week.

  • Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza (2007). Personal tale of the Rwandan genocide (movie)
  • Brick by Brick by Virunga Mountain Spirits (VMS) CEO Karen Sherman (2020) Memoir and stories of remarkable Rwandan women
  • Rwanda: The Royal Tour (movie) (2018) One-hour overview led by journalist Peter Greenberg and Rwanda President Paul Kagame. It also features artist and VMS friend Innocent Nkurunziza.

Also, I have a new favorite Africa newsletter that might appeal to you (business-minded types) courtesy of my friend Laura Davis at Renew Capital. It’s called The Africa Brief. Consider subscribing (weekly). One thing I found interesting for Rwanda:

Qatar Airways is acquiring a 49% stake in RwandAir, a deal that has been in progress for five years. This partnership is set to enhance Rwanda’s aviation sector, enabling RwandAir to expand its fleet and operations. The agreement, expected to be finalized by July, will also help RwandAir improve regional connectivity through a code-share arrangement. Additionally, Qatar Airways is investing in Rwanda’s new Bugesera International Airport, aiming to make Kigali a major transit hub in Africa by 2027.

New stadiums, hotels, airports…as you’ll see, Rwanda is definitely beefing up in its grand plans to be an Africa hub!


JUNE 14, 2024

Happy Friday everyone!

I hope you are excited about our upcoming Venture Rwanda 2024. I know I am!

I will hold off on introducing you. As you know, we lost some participants and I have a few in process–hoping it all works out as they are fabulous. If you know some, please invite. We are max 8 people + me (we have 4 right now).

Every Friday going forward (skipping some holiday weeks) I will share a brief Friday Update. The idea is to share some tidbits about who we will meet and things we will do. It’s one way to connect and prepare us for a Venture that will leave us all thinking differently about the world and our place in it.

Every time I visit Rwanda things are a little bit different. This visit will be no exception. Some special things on this trip will be new and never-to-be-repeated: play video.

Today’s Friday Update is logistical:

1. Venture Rwanda 2024. The WeTravel webpage is the central source of information pre, during and post-trip. I’ll be fine-tuning our agenda over upcoming weeks. Do check out the hyperlinks and resources. Closer to departure, there will be a Venture Guide PDF you can print/share.

2. Confirm Travel Details. This is a great time to finalize flights, make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date, and collect health & travel insurance info. Check out the link above for pre-travel recommendations and reading. You can login and update your WeTravel profile at any time, or just send to me.

For Linda and Norm, please share an ABOUT YOU answer (it will be included in our Venture Guide PDF).

I do not require but highly recommend travel insurance. I have someone every 2-3 trips who needs to last minute cancel for reasons outside their control–life happens.

3. Final Payment. Final payment is due 60 days before the start (so around July 20). You will receive notifications from WeTravel directly.

4. WhatsApp. WhatsApp (link) is the primary means of communication in Africa. The chat proves very helpful in idea/logistics sharing when in Rwanda, but also before and after the trip.

Questions on any of this? I’m here to help.

Finally, I have been working on a huge rebranding project! Connecting Growth Globally (CGG) all go away–everything is under my name, and travels are under Venture Travel. Thanks for checking it out (and sharing feedback 🙂


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