OYE youth in Rwanda dares to dream big


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The Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) team in Rwanda recently had the pleasure to host the MasterCard Foundation Senior Programme Manager of Youth Livelihoods, Alemayehu Konde, and the Research, Evaluation and Learning Manager, Abdoul Karim Coulibaly.

After discussing the project progress, we invited Jean Bosco Nzeyimana (22 year old OYE participant) to give a presentation about his business, Habona Limited. The young entrepreneur explained his briquette-making business model and successfuly pitched his vision of scaling his business country-wide while employing 3000 fellow youth.

“We are very proud of the work you are doing. Habona is an example of what OYE is about,” Mr Konde said after the Skoll World Forum nominee finished his inspiring presentation.

The day’s agenda included a trip to Musanze, Northern Rwanda, to visit youth who were trained in biogas and solar technologies. Upon arrival, we visited the Musanze district office where we were welcomed by Mr Sana Sabin Albert, the Fonerwa Project Manager for Musanze. Fonerwa is an environment and climate change DFID fund that aims to facilitate green growth in Rwanda over the next 50 years , while serving as a touchstone for Africa and the rest of the world.

“I appreciate the OYE partnership. It is the answer to challenges such as youth employment, environmental protection and access to renewable energy,” Mr Sana told the delegation, adding that the district had to deliver 110 digesters as part of its performance contract and so far 88 had been installed with the help of OYE technicians. MoUs will be signed between the biogas cooperative and the district in order to enable the cooperative to get more contracts and help the district achieve its performance targets.

The delegation then proceeded to the Kimonyi sector where the youth were busy installing plumbing for two digesters they had built. The president of the CJCBM youth cooperative Claude Tuyishimire welcomed the delegation and thanked The MasterCard Foundation and OYE for the training in biogas technology as well as for the life skills & business development trainings.

“We have a contract for 35 digesters and we have finished 25. Working together enables us to exchange ideas and sharpen each other's skills. We are earning money and also putting savings aside in order to be able to take up bigger projects in the future. We hope for a continuous partnership with the district as we grow,” said Mr Tuyishimire.

With just three women in the 35-member cooperative, Mr Konde noted the gender imbalance and sought to understand the reasons.

“Girls fear technical jobs. Women marvel when they see me in my overalls going to work. I really hope I can inspire others to embrace technical jobs,” said Solange Mbagemana, one of the female members, in response to Mr Konde’s question.

He called upon the OYE team to focus more on enrolling women in biogas and challenged them to link the cooperatives to MFIs for capital funding.

“Bring in more young women. Let’s promote the work of the youth we already trained as technicians so that their work will attract others,” Mr Konde proposed to the OYE team.

Mr Konde also encouraged representatives of a biogas cooperative from Ngororero district to seek mentorship from the Musanze Cooperative as they had just registered with Rwanda Cooperatives Agency and already had a contract to build 72 digesters for their district.

“I know you are working in the private sector, but please be collaborative and not just competitive, learn from each other,” the chief guest advised the young technicians.

Before leaving Musanze, the guests stopped by the Mobisol hub in the town centre, where they met Pacifique Nshuti, one of 100 OYE youth who received solar training in 2015 at the Mobisol solar academy and works as a sales agent at the solar hub.

“I heard about the Mobisol training after completing secondary school. I enrolled in OYE and ended up at the academy. So far I have sold 80 Mobisol units. I hope to have my own business in five years,” said Pacifique.

We wrapped up the day, happy to see that the OYE youth dare to dream big!

The OYE project is funded by MasterCard Foundation.

Expert

Roy van der Drift

Youth Employment Coordinator