In an increasingly competitive world for job-seekers, opportunities are few and far between for young university and high school graduates. Our current economic climate calls for a workforce that is not only self-reliant but also one that creates jobs and injects them into the community. Jesuit Urumuri Centre initiated the Youth Empowerment Program for exactly this purpose. The program was launched in September 2020 and was preceded by a call for applications where a selection of 40 was invited to attend training.
Initially, the group was taken through the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship manual after which 31 of the 40 youth graduated. Among these, 12 were selected for the incubation phase during which Jesuit Urumuri Centre in collaboration with Business Development Center oversaw the launch and viability of their businesses for the first 6 months.
Jesuit Urumuri Centre recently checked in with these 12 businesses and was gratified to learn that they are currently in operation and have taken off successfully. The beneficiaries are working on and growing their businesses at their own individual paces and are employing at least 3 other staff members each.
Fiston Mukeshimana is one of our young graduates. He built his pigsty during the first month of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship training. During the training, JUC had allocated and distributed allowances to beneficiaries for each of the 5 modules completed. Fiston used the allowance accumulated during the training phase to purchase his first 4 pigs. These pigs were bred and sold for income. As of last week, he has eight pigs but the entrepreneur whose business is there to help meet demand for pork in the country plans to have many more pigs in the coming days; “The program gave me a push to start my business which I had been contemplating for some time. Those allowances JUC gave us weekly are the reason I have a pigsty. Thanks also to the program I have a lot of hope and confidence in my business.”
Jean Paul Tuyishime owns a start-up in gardening. He sells flowers and plants as well as does gardening for institutions and individuals in their homes. Like Fiston, Jean Paul is appreciative of having participated in the Youth Empowerment Program where he says his knowledge of entrepreneurship grew tenfold; “Since being selected into the program, I have become a better businessman and learnt the purpose of my life. I have realized that my business is needed and appreciated in our community. I have increased the variety of plants and flowers and now know how to market my products. The only way from here is up.”
Alain Parfait Abayisenga is into poultry farming and also received the extra push to build hen-houses after being selected into the youth empowerment program. The young farmer saved allowances that he received after each module and added them to his family’s contribution towards his project. He started off with 91 cocks and hens. Since then, he has sold the cocks for meat and the hens are laying eggs for sale; “I have an average of 50 eggs per day which has really encouraged me. I plan on building more hen-houses and growing this business to the best of my ability”.
After the completion of the incubation phase, all 31 graduates of the program were recently invited back, to go on study visits at successful businesses across the country. Here they saw firsthand how different entrepreneurs started small but grew and succeeded in their different areas of interest.
The youth heard inspiring stories of resilience and walked away from these visits with a renewed sense of optimism and ambition towards achieving their dreams.