On Tuesday the 30th of March 2021, Jesuit Urumuri Centre concluded its first phase of the youth empowerment program with a graduation ceremony where at its premises, 31 youth were awarded certificates of completion for training in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Gracing this occasion were the Regional Superior of Jesuits in Rwanda and Burundi Fr. Fabien Gasigwa SJ, Director of Jesuit Urumuri Centre Fr. Patrice Ndayisenga SJ as well as members of Business Development Center (BDC); Dr. Patrice Habinshuti (Country Operations Director), Mr. Anaclet Bagirishya (Certified Master Trainer) and Mr. Deo Mutambuka (Head of Strategic Relations and Deputy Representative of BDC).
The youth empowerment program was initiated to combat high unemployment rates among high school and university graduates in Rwanda where JUC selected Rwandan youth and Burundian refugee youth and took them through a manual of the program consisting of 5 modules; self-discovery, self-realization, innovation development & prototyping, marketing & promotion, operations, financing & financial management and strategic planning & sustainability. At the completion of the program, beneficiaries were expected to have the skills required to be innovative in terms of business creations and management as well as have the ability to contribute to their communities in terms of creating jobs for their peers.
Tuesday’s graduation ceremony was preceded by presentations of project proposals, that beneficiaries made in front of a panel of judges on the 11th and 12th of March 2021. Soon after that, Jean Paul Bucyibaruta, Armel Ntungane and Clementine Mukeshimana would be selected to present their projects for the attendants of the graduation ceremony.
Addressing the audience after the hand-over of certificates, Fr. Fabien Gasigwa SJ remarked on what a good initiative the program is, as he informed attendants that the youth are a major priority for the Society of Jesus. This, he said is because the society’s current 4 Apostolic Preferences (2019-2029), include accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.
He then highlighted the 3 things he wanted the beneficiaries to help him meditate on. He wished to thank the Lord, the youth and their friends and family as well as Jesuit Urumuri Centre for the successful completion of the program. Secondly, he asked attendants to recognize the efforts of the Jesuits, in prioritizing the youth and thirdly asked the latter to take full advantage of the knowledge that they gained while attending the training; “I am sure you can agree with me that there is nothing more challenging in life than unemployment, you become hopeless and feel like you have no purpose for living. I applaud Jesuit Urumuri Centre for thinking of this initiative for you, our youth. If you then are able to use the skills you have acquired and create jobs for your peers, we will have made a difference in our communities and our country as a whole”.
Fr. Patrice Ndayisenga SJ echoed these remarks emphasizing the uniqueness of this program by highlighting the difference between JUC’s manual for the program and other manuals “This manual is the only one out there that includes a module on ‘self-discovery’, this module is important because, before you know what you want to do, you have to learn about yourselves and become self-aware. This helps determine the right path for you to take moving forward.” He went on to express his joy at having witnessed some of the projects that have been started by beneficiaries. “I am pleased to see that the program served its purpose as several of you have started your projects already. I also did notice your enthusiasm and commitment early on, as you were present for trainings during even the heavy rains of October and November last year. This assures me that we selected a group of focused and ambitious youth who will put to good use what they have learnt during the program”.
Fr. Patrice concluded his remarks by thanking the team of Business Development Center who assisted JUC by facilitating the program, as well as the JUC staff for the different roles they played towards the realization of the program success.
Millandra Ingabire and Clementine Mukeshimana on behalf of their peers expressed their gratitude to Jesuit Urumuri Centre and Business Development Center for the program, presenting Fathers Fabien, Patrice and Ernest as well as BDC team with gifts. Millandra assured JUC and BDC that she and her peers are determined to use their acquired knowledge and skills to make the Centre proud. She emphasized the fact that beneficiaries will start kingdom businesses (guided by the word of God) as they were taught, for the greater glory of the Lord.
Towards the end of the ceremony, guests were invited to the JUC grounds for an exhibition of a few selected projects of the program.
The next phase of this program will be incubation of businesses, where selected beneficiaries will be assisted by Jesuit Urumuri Centre in kicking off their businesses as well as sustaining them.
JUC Communication Officer