Meet Innocent Kwizera – an educator who helps ambitious Students & Corporates stand out in their respective fields through sports.
As the CEO & Founder of Hoops Genesis Ventures, qualified FIBA coach, speaker, and community leader, he does the following;
- Coaches basketball to children and adults from age 6 to age 60+ in order to create a larger health-oriented society.
- Teaches corporations how to use sports to get more out of their daily lives.
- Manages events for corporate companies.
- Works with students in the field of mental health. Provides fitness and health services to companies.
- Provides football academy services to the community.
- Develops underprivileged talents by providing free sports coaching throughout the year.
Innocent is also passionate about public speaking and encouraging the youth on how to stay motivated and grow in their respective careers.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Innocent Kwizera: I would like to, first of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story with you and the world. My name is Innocent Kwizera Muhoozi from the beautiful country of Rwanda in East Africa. I am a software analyst, businessman, and certified Basketball Coach.
I lost my wonderful mother at the age of 12. Grew up in boarding school from age 7 and had bad experiences at home with a step-parent. I almost committed suicide at age 16 due to the atmosphere at home. This is something I have only told 3 people in my life. I used sports as my safe place and as a means to create happiness and give me a purpose to live.
I played lots of football (soccer), athletics (200m) and even thought I would someday play at the Liverpool Football Club academy. In 2002, I completely switched to basketball as my primary sport and football became secondary. It is still unbelievable how that happened without thought. I went on to play basketball professionally starting in 2008 in the Ugandan Basketball League as well as various clubs around Africa and the rest of the world.
Anyway, getting bullied both in school and at home, I always had the zeal to create something in the future that I can use to bring positivity, love, and other life lessons using sports to the youth. I have never been satisfied with my own success, I always felt like, if mindsets can be changed in numbers, that will be better for the youth in their daily lives. And hearing stories of how my mother helped raise many now prominent people and how passionately they speak of her, I got more interested in creating a path.
In 2015, while in India, I had one of my mentors help me realize my abilities and he helped me set up a basketball academy called Hoops Genesis Basketball. The values of the academy are; Leadership, Respect, Discipline, Teamwork, Unity & Love.
I have been certified as a FIBA coach (Federation of International Basketball Association) and studied various courses on sports business as well as psychology to be an all-around life coach.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Innocent Kwizera: To be fair, I can’t really name only one. I have four people that I surely give the credit to and I am grateful to forever.
The first person being Max Agoundoukoua, a petroleum engineer who is also my spiritual brother. This man taught me a lot about having faith and being accountable to God in every area of my life. He was the first person to help me create the academy and spent money out of his pocket to buy our first ever set of equipment.
The first day we met, I crashed a church lunch in 2012 and he was in charge. He made me pay for my share while still being polite. This lunch was paid for by the church at a hotel. While at that lunch, we spoke and got to know each other. From that very moment, he requested me to organize a basketball program at his villa every two weeks. This became a regular program that runs for close to two years. He used this to train my leadership abilities and mobilization skills.
In the years that followed, he helped me create business plans and even introduced me to various individuals who contributed greatly to who I am today.
Special shout-out to:
- Mike Holland – CEO of Embassy Office Parks for getting us to the stage of the corporate world and becoming a better sports management company,
- Dr. Akash Ryall – Director of Bethany Institutions for giving us the avenue to work with and inspire school children through Bethany High School.
- The Late Dr. Chip (May his soul Rest in Peace) – Founder of Provision Asia an NGO that deals with the differently-abled in India for teaching me what it means to be a humanitarian.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Innocent Kwizera: First of all,
- Integrity. This is something I just can’t believe that many people actually lack. Before even being an entrepreneur, you need to build character. You as a person need to have principles. You must have integrity. This is what carries you to a level above others and keeps you at the top. Not just for profit but also for grooming and inspiring great generations to come.
- Secondly, I have seen that many entrepreneurs don’t have mentors. I advise them to find people with good character and experience in their field of interest and ask for their help or even try to pick the good habits and emulate them.
- Lastly, Accountability and the fear of speaking out. The one thing I learned over the years is that you need to stand for something or you will fall for anything. Build your brand based on what you know is right and stick to it. Call out what you know is not right. The only thing we lose in this world is life. Do not be afraid to speak out and hold people accountable.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Innocent Kwizera: I define resilience as the ability to strive for my goals no matter the circumstances. As a believer in the word, I read the Bible to help me understand struggle. Being able to have the wisdom to acknowledge other people’s greatness and reach out for advice.
In critical times like this, one should keep an open mind to learn from others to be able to adjust.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Innocent Kwizera: I believe it’s the ability to build a family-like atmosphere using sports. Our values push everyone involved towards being a family. We emphasise unity and love. With love so much can be achieved. We have had people join us that never played basketball before at age 25 and have been able to learn it quickly for the mere fact that they love being around the others in the class.
I always use the example of a maths teacher. If you have a loving, caring maths teacher, many times, you are likely to excel at that very subject. When you love someone you tend not to want to disappoint them hence putting in effort in whatever you do.
I believe we excel at making our students & clients feel at home and loved.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Innocent Kwizera: My answer would be:
- Integrity. Being honest and truthful in what I can deliver and following through with what I am supposed to do.
- Optimism. My ability to be hopeful and keep striving even where there seems to be no way. I remember in 2017 we were struggling so much I almost got into depression. That whole year was a trying one. Everything I seemed to try was off by a mile. I felt like giving up at some point but could not let go. I had hope and belief that something was going to happen that may change my life. In 2018, someone happened without even me asking and he helped change everything.
- Curiosity. I love knowing stuff. I am always studying things especially related to sports and mental health.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Innocent Kwizera: Yes, I believe my personal brand reflects my company’s values.
Before I started this company, I had to reflect and understand that my character will have to match what I preach. I believe in giving thanks to God, helping people in less fortunate communities, being fit and healthy, talking to people, and loving them no matter where they are from.
These all are the values of what I am about and exactly what Hoops Genesis Ventures stands for.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Innocent Kwizera: Participative Leadership. I love getting everybody to participate. In this field, the goal is to help build communication, leadership, unity, and teamwork. This style of leadership works best for me. It helps build patience and gives everybody time to mature into a particular role.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Innocent Kwizera: First and foremost, identify what you love to do that can help solve problems in the world. Be ready to hear “NO” many times. Be a person of integrity. Believe in what you started and always see it through. Ask for help and advice. You don’t know it all. Someone out there is better than you are. So be humble.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Innocent Kwizera: “Aspire to inspire before you expire” – Eugene Bell Jr.
This quote gives me memories of my mother and the work she did to change people’s lives and certainly has given me the power to always stay true to inspiring other people to be the best version of themselves hence creating a company that does exactly that.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Innocent Kwizera for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Innocent Kwizera or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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