Seated, left to right; Mr Prudence Kayiranga sj, Dr Patrice Habinshuti, Mrs Diane Irankunda, Fr Patrice Ndayisenga sj and Fr Ernest Ngiyembere, sj.


On Friday 18 August 2023, Jesuit Urumuri Centre at her premises held the graduation ceremony for beneficiaries of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship training dubbed the Youth Empowerment program. Launched during the first quarter of the year, beneficiaries of this program were taken through the social innovation and entrepreneurship manual for a period of 3 months during which they went over topics such as self discovery, financial management and strategic planning and sustainability.



Gracing the occasion were Fr Patrice Ndayisenga, sj, former director of Jesuit Urumuri Centre and his successor Fr Ernest Ngiyembere, sj. Also present at the event were Business Development Centre (BDC-Rwanda) Country Operations Director Dr Patrice Habinshuti, BDC-affiliated expert consultant Mr Wilsom Muhirwa, Project Manager at Grow Movement Mrs Diane Irankunda and friends and family members of the graduates.


Speaking at the event Fr Ernest expressed his joy and gratitude to the graduates for seeing the program through, emphasizing the commitment the Society of Jesus has to the accompaniment of the youth. He also took the time to thank BDC Rwanda who have been collaborators since the inception of the project which was initiated by Fr Patrice during his management at JUC.



Dr Patrice during his remarks thanked the Centre commending her for her efforts in alleviating a real threat that is unemployment among the youth; ” Imagine going to school for all years that we usually go, imagine the sacrifice parents make to ensure the education, the hard work we all put into scoring the best marks and then graduating and finding oneself sitting at home. You almost wish you didn’t waste all that time. The Jesuits are so generous for this thought and initiative”. Dr Patrice went on to thank in particular Fr Ernest as well as Fr Patrice, the latter being the originator of the youth empowerment program; “It gives me much joy to see Fr Patrice is the guest of honor at this event as this project really is his brainchild. When BDC first partnered with JUC, it was he who presented to us his concern about unemployment among the youth and the idea he had for a project that would equip beneficiaries with skills to make a living for themselves and their peers”.


Beneficiaries of the project took the time to share the knowledge and skills they have gained, wowing guests and their peers with the presentations of their project ideas. Justin Ndagijimana whose project idea is the manufacturing of leather shoes shared said that he felt special for having had the opportunity to take part in the training; “I am a blessed man I have come to realize, in life in general but particularly with this youth empowerment program. Due to lack of financial means I was only able to study up to O’ level. Also because I was the eldest child in my family I immediately started thinking about what I could do to support my family. I started a shoe making business but lacked the skills and knowledge for my business sustainability. My level of education should have disqualified me for this project but because I owned a business already I had the fortune of getting accepted.” Justin added that it is thanks to this program that he has renewed optimism concerning his business “I am feeling hopeful and rejuvenated after arming myself with these skills and knowledge. I currently have a team of three employees but I am planning on adding seven more to bring the total of new job creations to ten. All of this is thanks to Jesuits.”


Landrada Kanyana also gushed about the self growth she has gained as a result of taking part in this training; ” What I am most grateful for in this program was the first module in the manual, which is self discovery. Before joining the program, I thought all I needed to do was think of a product, placing it on the market and having people consume it. I found out during this training that what I should have done was to establish a market first and determining what consumers like and what they do not like. During the field work assignments, I relied on family, friends and neighbors for feedback on my product and this enabled me to meet the consumers needs.”

Also present during this event was Adeodata Marie Ange Assoumpta who is part of the first group of beneficiaries that were taken through the training. The owner of an accounting firm shared that her business has made tremendous growth as a result of the training she received in the social innovation and entrepreneurship program; “The marketing and promotion module was very helpful to me, as were all the modules. But that one in particular taught me how to approach clients. I thought the best strategy was to present my business to potential clients and that would be it. Through this training I learnt that I should listen to the client first and then offer solutions. I credit the program for my having grown my clients from four to thirty, to date.”


Fr Patrice, who was the guest of honor also shared his remarks encouraging beneficiaries to take advantage of the training they have just been taken through; ” To my knowledge, in Rwanda about 15,000 youth graduate every year, only to become jobless. I even pondered myself on whether it is even worth it to spend all those years studying. Thankfully you had the fortune of being trained in this youth empowerment program. This program does not only teach you how to run successful businesses but also how to manage and save your earnings. Hopefully just as we all listened to the testimony of Ange Adeodata, all of you will come back to us in a year or two with positive testimonies about your businesses. I am truly encouraged, clearly this program is changing lives.”



Fathers Ernest and Patrice, Mrs Diane and Dr Patrice handed out certificates to graduates before sending them off to continue working on their projects. Moving forward, ten selected beneficiaries will be accompanied in a six months incubation period, where they’ll be assisted to launch their businesses and given tools to ensure their staying afloat.

JUC will be launching the training for another cohort soon, as beneficiaries have already been selected.

Henriette Mushimiyimana

JUC Communications Officer