Thousands of Rwandan Young Professionals gathered in Kigali to discuss available development opportunities, challenges and how to overcome them.
The gathering at Intare Conference Arena on Sunday, was part of the Meet the President.
It is hosted by President Paul Kagame. On several occasions, such a meeting brings together Rwandans from the same background to interact, raise challenges they encounter and suggest solutions.
In the first panel of discussion the Minister of Youth Rosemary Mbabazi told the youth that the country has been doing what it takes for them to develop and it’s their turn to seize the opportunities that were offered.
Mbabazi said, that Rwanda is not taking for granted the fact that around 70% are the youth.
Several initiatives, she said, were put in place to help the youth develop.
“We have the Business Development Fund (BDF) and it was put in place for you. Go, pitch your projects for funding,” she said.
“The VisitRwanda project, do you think it is meant to benefit anyone else? It is you, the youth.”
Mbabazi also said, many more initiatives are coming and are set to benefit the youth across sectors.
“For example, we have a new partnership with Imbuto Foundation which will promote the young artists. More is coming,” she said.
Some of the youth shared their experience how they faced employment and entrepreneurship challenges and were successful.
Sharing her story, Yvette Ishimwe, the founder of Iriba Group, a water project in Kayonza district, narrated her small beginning and resilience which yielded good results.
Back in 2015 when her mother relocated to Kayonza district there was a water scarcity where a 20 liter water container could go for Rwf 300.
The Iriba founder who was just a secondary school graduate found it so much, and she started searching on google an affordable water treatment system.
“Everything was costly, but with more search, I landed on a Kenyan company with a branch in Kigali. I approached them, and they gave me a technology worth Rwf 400,000 which my mother would give me,” she said.
“We treated water from Lake Muhazi and started supplying the water to homes. We quickly reached out to 400 homes and we are actually looking forward to supplying 2000 homes.”
Edouard Bamporiki, the chairman of National Itorero program was asked if really Rwanda could develop without sticking to culture.
He said “RPF was fighting in the traditional way and fought the battle, but the government soldiers who called for the white people to fight on their side lost the battle. We have to only stick on our culture, look at homegrown solutions if we want to grow,” Bamporiki said.
“The foreigners should only come in as partners.”
However, these homegrown solutions do not succeed overnight.
According to the founder of Iriba, “it was never easy. I got a project, but I did not have skills. For example, a community would call me to dig and get water for them and, sadly, I could dig up to 100 meters without getting water, thus losing $5000.”
“But the most important is to stick to what you want.”
The youth shared several hindrances of their growth, and one of them was the high taxes for business startups and the experience requirements in employment.
Mbabazi told the youth that, taxes are important for the growth of any country and they cannot go without.
As for experience in recruitments, she said only directors are required to present their experience, “which is legitimate if we need to have competent leaders who can lead a team and the country to development.”
Competence, honesty and commitment, said Mbabazi, is the way to go for the youth to develop.
For Bamporiki, “the youthfulness is a capital, we should work today. Let’s build the country today as we still have an opportunity.”