When Good Ideas are Bad


Downtown Kigali, you are likely to be approached by vendors offering the opportunity to buy various printed material. Among the common items on offer: maps of Kigali. As a new visitor and now resident, I paid the $3,000 RWF (roughly $6) to get my copy, even though I could see it wasn’t going to be as useful as I hoped. Although this is a sizeable city of almost 2 million people, I have yet to find a good map. This is largely because the vendors sell the same map…one that is now outdated. This city has seen such change in recent years, entire neighborhoods (such as the one in which our children attend school) and key landmarks are nowhere to be found. The official language in Rwanda has changed from French to English recently, yet none of these maps are printed in English. And perhaps most frustrating, these maps have no way of showing elevation.In a city consisting of many hills, a 2-dimensional map simply fails to help the reader appreciate the terrain to Point B while sitting in the valley of Point A. As an entrepreneur, one’s mind races to possible solutions, and Greg and I struck upon the following idea: A pop-up map of Kigali! Such a map could be topographical in 3-D, include all landmarks and suburbs to scale, be written in English and hopefully printed at a price that still makes it affordable for the growing number of newcomers coming to this city. Among the army of registered vendors, imagine how popular the one with the new map would be!

Every day, walking in a setting with so much untapped potential, one is struck with such ideas (some better and more serious:). If necessity is truly “the mother of invention”, we should not be surprised to find so many opportunities, given the need is so great on so many levels. Good intention can be spread too thin, as many local NGO’s can attest. Since the amount of time and energy we have is finite, we must not try to do so many things that we fail to do one thing well. It is frustrating having to say “no” so often, yet if we can continue to do so, and pick our focus areas carefully, we increase the likelihood that years from now something truly excellent will have been achieved.

Someday, a vendor will offer us a new map of Kigali, and we’ll be thrilled someone else made a good idea happen.

Onward & Upward,

One thought on “When Good Ideas are Bad”

  1. there is also opportunities for others (like those following your trail from afar and praying for you) to pick up these ideas and run with them.

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