Continuing our series of articles from our Annual Report 2022/23, we outline here our work on our Youth Economic Empowerment Project (YEEP).
The Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (YEEP) is a partnership between SURF and AERG (National Student’s Association of Genocide Survivors) and GAERG (National Survivor’s Association of Graduate Students) to deliver entrepreneurship, work readiness and vocational training, and access to finance and learning resources, to empower vulnerable youth – specifically young survivors which dropped out of school and marginalised second-generation survivors – and enable them to develop secure livelihoods and sustainable incomes. In so doing, this will alleviate their poverty and improve their well-being and enable them to better independently support themselves and their households.
YEEP launched in July 2021, and will run for an initial three years, made possible through support from Clifford Chance. The key objective is to empower vulnerable young people in Rwanda through a programme of entrepreneurship, work readiness and vocational training, and access to finance, and in so doing to alleviate their poverty and improve their well-being. In so doing, the project will specifically address Target 2 of Sustainable Development Goal 1: “By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of all men, women and children of all ages living in poverty,” and Target 4 of Global Goal 3: “promote mental health and well-being”.
We understand that young people have different ambitions for their professional life. Some wish to find training and capital to start a business, whilst others would prefer to find steady employment either through a job or a trade. YEEP seeks to help principally vulnerable and marginalised young people to navigate their pathway into work – whether that is entrepreneurism, employment or a vocation. We expect that at least 2,550 young people will be enrolled in and complete one of the four training components of the programme:
- Entrepreneurship training (pathway into self-employment)
- Work readiness training (pathway into employment)
- Internship training programme (pathway into employment)
- Vocational training (pathway into employment or self-employment)
In Year 1, YEEP has been implemented in all the three districts of the City of Kigali where 13,601 young survivors were identified to be jobless. Ten geographical sectors were identified to be part of the project implementation namely Kimironko, Bumbogo, Kinyinya, Ndera, Gatenga, Masaka, Gahanga, Mageragere, Kigali, Nyamirambo.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Survivors Fund (SURF) and Goshen Finance to enable GAERG members to access loans through the YEEP LGF facility, following an assessment of their business proposals by both loan officers and project staff. As a result, 68 project participants have been able to access loans to start their IGAs.
Thirty-one (31) mentoring groups have been created in 10 sectors of Kigali City, through which the CBD Assistants conduct training on entrepreneurship. The smaller groups enable participants to be more involved and engaged in the training, with the culmination being the development of a business plan. The 31 groups attended regular sessions for entrepreneurship training over a period of 3 months, where different topics were taught including training from Goshen microfinance on financial literacy, business development and planning.
One hundred youth have joined vocational training to acquire different skills across a range of different trades, which enables them to compete in the local job market. Among the project participants who attended vocational training, 80 of them graduated, whilst 10 have started small businesses of their own after completing training in different areas such as baking and tailoring.
This project has helped GAERG to maintain their online communications, especially its website, by uploading new content to raise awareness of the programme. The site is visited by many people who are interested in learning how to access the support and resources made available through the programme. Work is currently underway to make available content from the components of the programme online, and the Internship Officer is working hard to prepare that for upload to the site. Over the course of the past year, 20,350 people have visited the website.
The Internships Officer, in partnership with GAERG management, has identified 634 (261 Male and 373 female) youth to be a part of the YEEP internship program. All have enrolled and attended training, in which they discussed different topics including CV writing, interview preparation and technique, workplace behaviour and conduct among others.
Among project participants, 61 have currently secured internship placements across different companies and organizations, both private sector and government, out of which 9 of them have subsequently secured permanent jobs.
Antoinette is a 29-year-old young survivor of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi who lives in Kicukiro District. Antoinette is a participant in the entrepreneurship training component of YEEP. She decided to start a small business from her own savings amounting to RWF 350,000 (around £280) from which she started a fresh fruits business in the Nyarugenge District Market.
From this business, Antoinette says she is now able to cover her basic living needs after covering the costs of the business. Besides, she has been able to contribute savings amounting to Rwf 60,000 (around £40) to her savings and credit group.
She has built up her business confidence because of the entrepreneurial skills she acquired through the training and believes that her business will grow, and in so doing enable her to overcome extreme poverty and provide support to her family, and others in need.
She is very thankful for the support she has received from YEEP through GAERG and SURF, and for being able to transform her life through setting up her own business. In future, she is planning to take a soft loan from our microfinance partner, Goshen Finance, and increase her investment to scale up the business further. Her business is currently valued at above RWF 500,000 (around £400).