Skills, jobs and entrepreneurship are key to the well-being of young survivors and also contribute to strengthening the Rwandan economy. Survivors Fund (SURF) and AERG (The Association of Student Genocide Survivors) set up the Youth Entrepreneurship Training Programme (YETP) with the aim of providing valuable skills to vulnerable young people, and of reducing youth unemployment in Rwanda. Now into its third group of students, the initiative is showing strong results.
Françoise Lemagnen, Chief Executive of SURF, said: “I am very proud of the achievements of the students, trainers and the YETP team and also thank our donors for their commitment to this important work. The current cohort will be the most successful one to date, and we look forward to seeing more confident and skilled young people in jobs and creating new businesses.”
Young survivors face more hurdles than most in education and competing on the job market – those responsible for younger siblings, in orphan-headed households, have extra challenges without family to support them. With a burgeoning private sector and improvements in its economy Rwanda offers increasing opportunity, but competition for jobs and business creation remains fierce.
The rationale behind YETP is to help those most in need to obtain skills for jobs, in both job-readiness training and in entrepreneurship, so that young survivors become economically active, self-sufficient and provide for their dependants. After following an intensive and quality training programme, students present their business plans, and winners are provided with micro-finance loans to start up new enterprises. Others will be better skilled and prepared for employment.
Justin, age 25, said of the training: “The thing that I most enjoyed learning was about leadership; how to guide and mentor a team, and solving conflict between members. Now that I have been in this training, I know that I have the skills to start my business. “
The first pilot YETP , of 150 students, began in 2012 with funding from the Kattan Family. Subsequent funding from the Alan & Babette Sainsbury Charitable Fund and INSPIRE!Africa enabled us to support a further 150 students in 2013, this time through a two-pronged approach that included work readiness training conjoined with entrepreneurship. Throughout the first and second cohorts of trainees, we learned key lessons: the need for even greater business guidance, capital and follow up post-training, and the need for youth to be directly linked with employment.
Thanks to a grant from the Cohen family, SURF initiated the third and most advanced version of YETP in April 2014. YETP3 incorporates entrepreneurship, work readiness and linkages to internships in relevant NGOs, companies, and within the public sector. As internships are rarely available and competitive in Kigali, this is a great innovation that will provide the majority of participants with work experience and possible employment.
YETP3 also partnered with the Rwanda Multi Learning Centre (RMLC), to provide 15 exceptional secondary school graduates with the opportunity to participate in the project. These youth are all orphans and have been unable to secure funds to further their education. Because the Rwandan private sector is still too small, for many of them, entrepreneurship is the only feasible option to secure their futures.
At the end of June, participants completed the 100 hour work readiness component of training. Participants will now move onto the entrepreneurship component of the course, and will focus on developing their entrepreneurial ventures. The top 25 businesses will then compete for access to a loan from our micro-finance partner, Duterimbere, at a business competition in August 2014.
SURF and AERG seek additional funding for the Youth Entrepreneurship Training Programme, so that we can offer improved training to a greater number and make available more loans. We are also looking to create new partnerships, and in particular with employers through our internship scheme. Do contact us for more information!