Brothers Antoine and Vincent live in a small village in Nyaruguru District, a few kilometers away from the Burundi border. Their home is located at the top of a steep hill and an expanse of eucalyptus and banana trees extends down to the valley. Both are 2013 Akazi Kanoze graduates and Vincent, the younger brother, was selected to be a youth tracker, a recognized AK leader. Before the program, the brothers were beekeepers and sold 150 kilos of honey a year as their main income generating activity. They were searching for ways to improve their honey production and enrolled in Akazi Kanoze in order to receive technical training on beekeeping.
In addition to receiving the work readiness training and business development curriculum, the two brothers worked with a beekeeping cooperative. Using their new technical expertise to take better care of their bee colonies in 32 hives, they have doubled their output to 300 kilos of honey a year since graduation. In addition to beekeeping, the brothers have invested in banana trees and cows. They learned about business diversification during Akazi Kanoze and invested some of their savings in these new income generating activities. According to Antoine, the program helped him become a better business manager and grow his microenterprise. Today, he is confident that his business will continue to grow. Despite this optimism, continuing his learning has been a challenge and Antoine and Vincent are struggling to find ways to improve their beekeeping techniques. Together they have set personal goals and are working on overcoming these challenges as a team, Antoine says.
Both brothers explain that they used to be very shy before Akazi Kanoze. Vincent was chosen as a youth tracker for his ability to bring together youth and communicate well. He says that he is more outgoing now and would never have accepted this role before. This confidence in their interpersonal skills has helped them build business relationships and pursue their own personal goals. Vincent recently achieved one of his personal goals of enrolling in university. Antoine has plans of expanding their banana plantation and investing in new seed. When asked if they consider themselves successful, Vincent explains that, “I am happy where we are now, but we aren’t there yet. We have plans to do much more.”