Over 6000 unemployed university graduates are set to benefit from a new project that seeks to empower youth with entrepreneurial skills. Launched in Kigali on 12 October 2017, the project is a joint initiative between Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Edified Generation Rwanda, an alumni of Imbuto Foundation scholars.

The project started with Gasabo, enrolling 15 young graduates in each sector of the district for a three-day training during which they will learn how to write bankable business proposals. Then they would use the proposals to seek funding from financial institutions like Business Development Fund.

According to a labour force survey recently released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), youth unemployment in Rwanda stands at 21 per cent.

Speaking at the launch of the project, Valens Ntirenganya, the executive director of Edified Generation Rwanda, said they are dedicated to give back to the community through empowering young graduates with skills that would help them start viable businesses. “We want to help end mindset of looking for jobs that can lead to many years of unemployment even when one has ideas that can be funded,” he said.

Diane Sayinzoga, the Head of Special Economic Zones and Exports at Rwanda Development Board, said that through this partnership the beneficiary youths will not only create employment for themselves but will also employ others. “We want them to show commitment to self-employment and have clear goals of what they want to achieve in their businesses,” she said.

Felicite Mukandayisenga, a 2013 education graduate from University of Rwanda’s College of Education and a resident of Jabana Sector in Gasaba, welcomed the project. “I tried to get a job in my domain of education but failed on many occasions and decided to give up and join business,” she said. “With a small capital, I started selling shoes and my earnings are meager…however, if we start working under cooperatives I’m sure my business will finally grow” she concluded.