Sector and District: Gasharu, Gasabo
IP: Never Again Rwanda
Often, it seems that we do not have the necessary resources, skills, or knowledge to achieve our hopes and dreams. But as trainers Penninah Kwizera, 24, and Jean Bosco Yirirwahandi, 33, are well aware, the main ingredients for success are not only resources, but determination and innovation.
Jean Bosco, a trainer for the past two years, studied economics at the University of Rwanda, but found a passion for training about entrepreneurship and financial skills, especially with Huguka Dukore Akazi Kanoze (HDAK). “This training is very important to all Rwandan youth, but also to me. Through receiving the skills to become an entrepreneur, I’ve found many things that I can do,” Jean Bosco said.
Penninah, a trainer for the past year, studied business at the Kigali Institute of Management and was attracted to HDAK training because of the focus on strong business and entrepreneurship principles.
“This training is very important to all Rwandan youth, but also to me. Through receiving the skills to become an entrepreneur, I’ve found many things that I can do." - Jean Bosco Yirirwahandi
In their time training, both have witnessed the power of the HDAK to transform youth lives. “Through this training, they receive good information and skills to find jobs, or some activities that they can do themselves,” Jean Bosco said.
“For many young Rwandans, this content will change their perspectives and help them develop economically,” he added.
However, there are certain obstacles they face, both in teaching the youth and in the training itself. “Sometimes, these youth don’t realize the importance of this training. Those that come from farms or don’t have transport don’t focus on coming to training regularly,” Jean Bosco said.
“Furthermore, youth often ignore cheap income-generating activities that can help them survive. It’s not easy to convince them that they can start on these activities, and these activities can grow daily. But slowly, they’ll understand,” he continued.
Penninah added, citing the difficulty in changing mindsets and perspectives. “It is often difficult to convince youth that they can start with small capital and gain more over time.”
To overcome these obstacles, Penninah and Jean Bosco have incorporated the power of storytelling to motivate youth. “We share success stories from youth who graduated before them, telling them the impact this technical training and skills had on their life. This helps change the mindset of the youth who are still in training,” Penninah said.
Both Penninah and Jean Bosco are entrepreneurs outside of training. Penninah owns a unisex hairdressing salon, while Jean Bosco regularly rents out some bicycles for transportation. And through teaching HDAK, they have been able to develop plans for future businesses.
“It is often difficult to convince youth that they can start with small capital and gain more over time." - Penninah Kwizera
“Because of this training, I’ve gotten another idea for a business. Right now, I’m trying to collect money before I can start, but I will very soon. These trainings have truly changed my life, and will help me get far in the future,” Jean Bosco said.
Similarly, Penninah has begun to think about growing mushroom-related products along with a partner. “My daily work is to motivate youth to start from nothing and get to something. Because of this package, I’ve gained confidence and interpersonal skills. I’ve even become motivated myself to start another business,” she said.
After graduating HDAK training, the trainers are aware that those looking for jobs will face major obstacles. “There is a misunderstanding that someone who did technical training is not as valuable as a university graduate. Foreign investors often pay these youth, but Rwandan people can sometimes neglect their value,” Penninah said.
But, through the principles that the youth have learned, along with regular follow-ups from trainers and supporters, Penninah and Jean Bosco are sure that these youth can overcome and succeed.
In their free time, Penninah enjoys staying at home, and Jean Bosco watches the matches of his favorite football team, Real Madrid.
Note: These interviews were translated with the help of Gilbert Nshimiyama, an AKA School to Work Transition Officer.