Using the third edition of the Youth Series conducted this May 31, 2022 women entrepreneurs in the agro –processing, renewable energy solutions, venture capitals, entrepreneurship ecosystem capacity building and media, took their inspirational stories to over 100 youth.
The youth included female university students who were encouraged to become agents of socio-economic change in Rwanda.
Organised by Nguriza Nshore project, a five-year $14.9 million program funded by Feed the Future through the USAID in collaboration with Akillah-Davis College Rwanda, the 2022 session took place on May 2022 at the University of Rwanda (UR).
An alumni of the Class of 2016 at Akillah-Davis college, Sakina Usengimana returned to the college to inspire others using her journey as founder of Afrifoods Rwanda – a gourmet horticulture export company.
She started with selling jewelry at school which she continued even after graduation combining the business with an internship at Kigali Marriott Hotel.
“It all started with a conversation with my sales and marketing director who told me that I had potential and that I could do my business idea without any need for money since I had all it takes to do my own business,” Usengimana said.
This inspire her to attend the Youth connect events – which also inspire young entrepreneurs and from the events she learnt about the need for exporting fresh foods thus started cultivating farm produce such as pepper in Bugesera district to export, but this didn’t work out until she got another exposure.
“I talked to the private sector association of exporters who helped connect me with a client in Netherlands and later got an opportunity to attend expos in Germany and Dubai which helped me to learn more about food exports,” she said that all this wouldn’t have happened without the zeal, right connections and network.
An other inspirational idea came from Francine Munyaneza, a solar energy investor who dropped her global at the International Committee of the Red Cross to return home in Rwanda because she wanted to have an impact in her country.
Recalling her life of a young girl in a refugee camp where there was no electricity, she equally saw the gap in energy sources yet the country has free sunshine as a source of energy.
Using her undisclosed life savings and contributions from partners, he registered Munyax Eco- a Rwanda / Belgian solar company trying to reconcile business and clean environment in Rwanda but also help her achieve her passion to be a women of change.
Munyaneza said that she employs women to bring solar energy to many while also bringing change in gender empowerment.
To advise young women interested in venturing into male-dominated fields, she said: “You need to be proactive, be informed, do your research, network, learn, seek advice and lastly stay positive.”
Nguriza Nshore Rwanda Deputy Chief of Party, Nadine Manzi said that the project is here to make connections for small businesses in agro value chains to all financial institutions and investors so as to access finance but this has required the project organizing youth Series and training the participants to prepare them to know and be ready to start and pitch their business ideas.