Service with a Smile
Training Site: Nduba
Sector and District: Nduba, Gasabo
Implementing Partner: Never Again Rwanda
Co-trainers James Masengo, 39, and Justine Uwangiza, 27, have very different business experiences. James is working on expanding his own food processing company, while Justine has yet to start her own enterprise. However, both trainers deeply understand the value of business principles, and work to instill these ideals in their youth through the Huguka Dukore Akazi Kanoze (HDAK) project so that they can not only be successful in business, but in life.
While James was working towards his bachelor’s degree in Food Processing from the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, he began training on the side, and realized that he wanted to continue even after graduation. “My passion is to increase the knowledge of others, so I wanted to continue training,” James said.
Soon after graduation, James began his own food processing company, Ganza Fruits Processing Ltd., which produces Ganza juice. However, James continued to train because he believes he has valuable insight to share. “I’m a trainer and an entrepreneur, so I have real experience that I can share with my trainees.”
Justine, meanwhile, graduated from the University of Rwanda with a bachelor’s degree in Management and Business Administration, and worked temporarily at a bank before becoming a trainer two years ago, because she realized she has a passion for “facilitating and helping others develop their careers.”
Since they began HDAK training, James and Justine recognized the immense value it provided students. Through the training, James has witnessed the youth “have a change of mind and behavior. They realize that, even with small capital, they can become successful entrepreneurs.”
Justine added, mentioning the important work and livelihood skills HDAK provides. “This program is very important to the youth, because it helps them develop skills to work themselves. It helps them learn how to live in a society. For youth that want to become their own bosses, it helps them to discover different careers. Overall, this project helps them to develop and to learn,” she said.
“We are always teaching our youth to deliver good services. And as we train them, I find that I have to deliver good service to my clients as well, wherever I’m working," Justine Uwangiza
Though the youth are the direct beneficiaries of the HDAK project, Justine acknowledged the impact it has had on her own perspectives, especially regarding customer service. “Because of this training, I’ve gained knowledge, and now plan to work for myself soon. I haven’t started yet, but I can do it as long as I can build my confidence. I’ve learned that to achieve, I have to deliver good service to my clients.”
She continued, explaining the importance of strong customer service. “If you want to develop a business, there will be competition. So, to win a market, the most important thing is to deliver good service to the clients. Through this, you can gain profit, and live better off in society,” Justine said.
“We are always teaching our youth to deliver good services. And as we train them, I find that I have to deliver good service to my clients as well, wherever I’m working,” she added.
Even though James already has hands-on business and entrepreneurship experience, the HDAK program taught him some useful skills as well. “These trainees needed to learn about accounting and finance, but so did I. HDAK helped me manage my business, through keeping track of finances and creating sales projections. It has helped me increase my skills about entrepreneurship, and learn more about management,” James said. In fact, this experience motivated him to continue learning about business management; durings the weekends, he is studying to receive his MBA from Mount Kenya University.
Though the program is clearly beneficial for both the student and the trainees, James and Justine recognize the difficulties involved, both in accessing the training and within the training itself. As James explained, since many youth do not have the same educational background, teaching concepts like accounting can be hard. “Many trainees have not finished secondary school, so teaching them how to manage money is difficult, because there are mathematics involved that they may not have learned.”
Justine then explained the challenges for youth to even reach training. “We often find that the youth are coming very far from where the training site is, so they often don’t come on time, or at all. Furthermore, for girls, they are often forced to stay home if their parents are not there, so they miss our trainings.”
Once HDAK training is complete, the trainers are aware that there will be more obstacles, such as access to capital. “These youth have ideas, they have things they want to do, but they always wonder where they can get the money to start,” Justine said.
“These trainees needed to learn about accounting and finance, but so did I. HDAK helped me manage my business, through keeping track of finances and creating sales projections. It has helped me increase my skills about entrepreneurship, and learn more about management." - James Masengo
In fact, James faced a similar problem when he was growing his own business. “The challenge I had was attracting customers, which was related to my small capital. I did not have the money to advertise using radio or TV,” he said.
However, the trainers are sure that HDAK will help the youth to overcome these obstacles using their resources and skills, just like James did. “To face my challenge, I used the principle of market penetration. I went to houses, boutiques and shops, and personally marketed. For transport, I used to use my shoulders. But now, I can use a car,” he added.
For their futures, James wants to be there to help through difficulties and celebrate achievements, “If I train anyone, I hope to see their achievements. I will continue to monitor them and stay in communication, so they can continue to have a mentor,” he said.
Justine has high hopes for these youth. “The first thing I hope they achieve is good standards of living, for themselves and their family. Of course they will serve others, but this is first for them.”
For herself, Justine hopes to start her own business soon. Meanwhile, James hopes to get U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval, and grow his brand to the international level.
In their free time, James enjoys watching football and movies, while Justine enjoys swimming.