In the final phase of the Youth Empowerment Program, Jesuit Urumuri Centre (JUC) in partnership with Business Development Center (BDC) facilitated study visits to successful entrepreneurs in different parts of Rwanda. This was with the purpose of inspiring and encouraging our youth.
Our youth were divided into groups according to their business interests. The first two group visits were completed by 23 September 2021. Our project facilitators researched community businesses that would interest, inspire and motivate the groups. The businesses were pleased to host us.
In Kamonyi District, one group visited Holly Trust Limited, a company that specializes in producing sesame oil, avocado oil, carrot oil, and honey that are 100% purely organic. The youth in this group have start-ups in the service industry, the majority being owners of saloons.
They were given a tour of the company by Bonaventure Mbarushimana, production manager of the company, where they were shown the process of extracting oil from plants and seeds as well as how they package the oils in recycled bottles and jars. Our beneficiaries found this an extremely eye opening experience. Not only did they see how a company can grow with commitment and consistency, they learnt much about how these oils can be used in their own salons to create healthy but effective products for beauty and hair dressing.
Agnes Mukarurangwa, one of the Youth Empowerment Program beneficiaries is the owner of a start-up saloon and was impressed by what Holly Trust limited stands for in general; “I am taking home with me the fact that anything can be turned into a business. There only needs to be creativity. I am mostly encouraged by the recycling of mayonnaise and jam jars which they collect and use to repackage the oils. It is not only cost effective but also environmentally friendly.”
She went on to express her gratitude for having been selected to be in the Youth Empowerment Program; “I can’t thank Jesuit Urumuri Centre enough for the growth I have gained since stepping into its premises. I am now brave and optimistic about my business and I am not afraid to take risks. I also appreciate the way in which the manual of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship integrated the word of God into the different modules. I particularly will keep in mind the topic of Kingdom businesses and how we were taught that God wishes us to gain profit in a good and honest manner.”
Another visit was to Jean Damascene Manishimwe, a maize and potato farmer and the owner of Complex farming company LTD in Ruhengeri province. Our youth in this group consisted of owners of start-ups in farming. Their farming start-ups are of various produce such as maize, chili peppers and mushrooms. Damascene, who is head of the Agriculture Cluster in Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) as well as representative of the youth in agribusiness in the Northern Province of Rwanda, shared with the group about how he started with very little capital but was persistent and currently has made a mark in agribusiness in Rwanda; “I actually studied construction and tried this farming as an experiment. I remember that I started with about 70 thousand Rwandan francs and initially borrowed a piece of land from my mother. The first produce made me 500 thousand Rwandan francs and I thought I was dreaming. That is when I realized I had found my calling.”
He gave the group a tour of his farm as well as of the storage building that he uses for his produce after which the whole entourage took a group photo.
Mark Karemangingo who owns a start-up in Chili Pepper growing was grateful to have met Jean Damascene; “I have been writing emails to Jean Damascene for a long time now but he is a busy man and I never received a response. Meeting him and having a chat with him in person is going to open doors for me. He immediately gave me contacts of established business people in chili pepper farming and gave me his own personal phone number to call him for more assistance. I can’t express how hopeful I am currently feeling about my business.”
The final visit was to Yvonne Utuza, a poultry farmer and owner of Un Junction Ltd in Bugesera district. To this visit, we took beneficiaries with start-ups in poultry farming. Yvonne gave the group a tour of her hen houses and shared with them processes of caring for the poultry from the stage where they are still eggs, to becoming chicks, to laying eggs and to finally being sold for meat. She also shared with them industry knowledge on gaining enough produce be it in chicken meat or in eggs; “The secret to getting good produce in eggs particularly, is making sure you have first generation poultry and these are usually imported. Pay attention to this and you’re mostly likely to succeed in your poultry farming.”
Alain Parfait Abayisenga, one of our young beneficiaries shared that he learnt how poultry farming is an umbrella of many activities; “I learnt only today that I need to feed my chicken vegetables in order to get a yolk that is more yellow in my eggs. The other thing I learnt is that I need to regulate the temperature for my poultry such that when it’s cold I look for a heater and when it’s too hot I open all windows for fresh air to blow in. I am so grateful to have been selected among beneficiaries of the Youth Empowerment program.”
Jesuit Urumuri Centre is grateful to the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (CEI) for their collaboration and solidarity in seeing through the Youth Empowerment Program. It is thrilling to see how impactful our program has been on the youth.