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  • Writer's pictureOlivier Bushayija

Meet Jacqueline “A Disabled Youth & Promising Young Entrepreneur

Akimanizanye Jacqueline preparing her knitting machine for the day. How old is Jacqueline (very interesting to know in that story. You can call someone from the IP.)

Living with a disability can be a big challenge and some might argue a barrier to living a full life. Not for this youth! Jacqueline (Akimanizanye) is a young woman living in the Busogo Sector of Musanze in Northern Province. She heard about the HDAK program through a community announcement at the Busogo Sector Office, and she immediately wanted to get in on the project. She wanted to further her passion of knitting by joining a community of like-minded youth who were on the same journey of life/career discovery as she was. Similar to many others, she joined a youth group in her sector and began going through the HDAK pathway to employment. Jacklyn has expressed that because of her involvement in the program she has been able to transform into a business woman who is knowledgeable about the power of saving.

In terms of the success of her business, Jacqueline makes a profit of 3,000 RWF/day. Her family lives near the isoko “local market”, which makes it easy for her to go from her house to work. During an interview, Jacqueline was asked whether she faced any challenges specific to her arm disability (working with one arm), she said “No.” The more paramount challenges she faced were a lack of demand from customers during certain seasons of her business, occasional break down of machines, and her non-ownership of the equipment; in order to knit and sell her garment, Jacqueline has to work from a shop in the town who own the equipment. One can imagine how difficult it is to run a small business under another larger business. But Jacqueline is determined to become self-employed and improve her circumstances. She wakes up every day with the goal to expand her business and improve her craft.

The Busogo Sector Youth Leadership & Accompaniment (YL&A) Group she joined is comprised of 23 members and was started in June of 2019. Thus far, 10 out of 23 have are employed, 8 are self-employed and 2 are wage-employed. Jacqueline was knitting before she joined the group, and as a result of her joining YL&A group, she has been able to learn about the vitally of saving for any business model, especially for a self-employed entrepreneur. The group meets month monthly and has a savings goal of at least 500 RWF/member/month.


Busogo Youth Group, Jacqueline is seated at the far left.

Currently, Jacqueline is looking ahead to a successful future for her knitting business. Within the next five years, she aspires to buy 3-5 Sewing machines and starts her own shop in which she can operate using her own machines. Her story is a true testament to the impact of HDAK at the local level and national level: at the local level, HDAK is changing communities by cultivating independent youth entrepreneurs who are bringing value to the community life, and at the national level, HDAK, which operates in 25 out of the 30 districts of Rwanda, is transforming the social development landscape of Rwanda by uplifting and empowering the youth to contribute to the economy and better their living circumstances.

This is the story of Akimanizanye Jacqueline, a young Rwandan girl who turned her life around by following her passion for knitting. Yes, she has an arm disability, but she has overcome that obstacle and is living a full life and is a promising young entrepreneur.


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