Rwanda: Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship

FIFTEEN years ago, the government set up the National Youth Council (NYC) as one of the mechanisms to empower the youth to effectively contribute towards national development.

Today, the council has among its achievements, the promotion of youth entrepreneurship through capacity building.

Gradually the council has extended its operations from the centre to all administrative units up to cell level. NYC officials say that this has greatly contributed to effective implementation of its programmes.

Beneficiaries of NYC programmes say the council has also supported them financially to implement projects.

“We have been organized in youth cooperatives through which we get access to funds from the council and this has enabled our cooperatives to set up income generating activities in crop production and animal husbandry,” said Yvette Mushimiyimana, one of the beneficiaries from Nyanza district.

“Since we have no guarantee required by financial institutions before securing loans, our access to finance has remained a challenge. However, with this council, we are being supported to achieve our dreams,” she said.

The Executive Secretary of NYC, Alphonse Nkuranga, told The Sunday Times that annually, the council supports and trains 100 youths from each district.

“For the first five years, the council in partnership with other partners, focused on unity and reconciliation, to bring youths under one umbrella,” Nkuranga said.

He explained that later, efforts were directed towards empowering the youth through skills development, especially entrepreneurship skills so that they can start income generating activities.

Nkuranga said that at least Rwf 130 million has been used in extending support to youth groups.

“This is one of the best ways through which the young generation will effectively contribute to national development,” he said.

Among other projects the council has supported to create means where the youth can easily access finance is COOJAD, a saving and credit financial institution for the youth.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Cyprian Kananura, the Director of Finance and Administration at COOJAD, said that the institution gives loans to its members (youth) without asking for guarantees or collateral security.

“After they become members, we train them on the basic principles of how they can benefit from our loans as well as encouraging them to save as this enables them to service their loans,” said Kananura.

The institution has so far registered 6000 members and gives out up to Rwf 5 million as loan.

“We had opened up branches in almost every province, but now we have partnered with Umurenge Sacco although we still run four independent branches within Kigali,” he said.

Kananura added that the institution has so far given out over Rwf 1.6 billion to 2000 of its members.

Aline Uwere, 25 is one of the beneficiaries. She got a loan of Rwf 2 million and managed to start a retail business.

“After becoming a member, I saved Rwf 250,000, I underwent a one month’s training and finally got Rwf 2 million loan,” Uwera said.

Paul Champion

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Twitter: @blogapprentice
Skype: paulchampion31

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