Marriott International has opened its first hotel in sub-Saharan Africa in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.
The hotel hopes to cash in on the country’s fast-growing meetings and conference business. It features a 254-room facility, with 30,000 square feet of space for events. It’s expected to create more than 500 jobs in Rwanda. Marriott partnered with the Akilah Institute, a Kigali-based women’s college, to recruit and train potential candidates. Some have been chosen for internships on Marriott properties in the Middle East.
“Rwanda is going through an economic transformation and we are proud to be a part of it,” said Ame Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International.
The 254-room hotel will be among Rwanda’s biggest and most luxurious properties, further enhancing Kigali’s reputation as a regional hub for conferences and conventions.
It will offer world-class meeting spaces with modern amenities to cater for the demands of this rapidly growing market.
Marriott has been working with community-based organizations on innovative partnerships to staff and supply the hotel with locals and locally-produced goods such as beef, poultry and produce, underscoring Rwanda’s goal of building up its core industries including tourism and agriculture.
The Akilah Institute for Women which empowers young women from Rwanda and other East African nations to achieve economic independence with market-relevant education and training is recruited Rwandese women for supervisory positions at the Kigali Marriott.
Marriott International invited nearly 40 Akilah graduates to work and train in Marriott hotels in Africa and the Middle East. After receiving on-the-job skills and leadership training, the first wave of graduates have returned to Rwanda to join the management team at the Kigali Marriott where they will help welcome guests from the around the world.
The American multinational hospitality company has also been working with Women for Women International whose local Women for Women Center is equipping Rwandese women with the skills to apply for entry-level hotel positions or to supply the hotel with goods such as baskets, cheese and honey. The hotel has hired more than 25 women from the institute.
Its work with the Relationship Coffee Institute which provides women with a new marketplace for locally-sourced premium coffee will see the Kigali Marriott’s Question Café serve locally-sourced coffee, grown by smallholder farmers and served by graduates of the economic development training program.
Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies which supports Women for Women International and the Relationship Coffee Institute said, “The opening of this Marriott hotel is providing long anticipated market activity for Rwandan women. Their café in the hotel provides the global business community with a perfect example of how business, philanthropy and government can work together to improve people’s lives.”
The opening of the Kigali Marriott follows Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in a transaction that created the world’s largest hotel company, with Marriott International operating or franchising more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, in over 110 countries worldwide doubling the brand’s distribution in the Middle East and Africa.