The Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Edouard Ngirente has asked youth to be innovative in using the country’s available opportunities to create more jobs.
The PM revealed that Rwanda has invested in empowering youth but needs more youth innovations in research and technology to spur the country’s development outlined in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) 2017 – 2024.
“So far 14 of the 50 selected projects have been funded with over Rwf550million in the national research and innovation fund (NRIF),”Ngirente revealed.
The NRIF was established in 2018, to facilitate the implementation of the national research and innovation policy in science and technology to make an effective contribution to development strategies and improve competitiveness of the production sectors.
Dr. Ngirente said that in order to reach this goal, the youth have to be procreative, optimistic and self-confident in their innovations if they are to play a big role in the country’s development.
“Government has invested in quality education to create opportunities for the youth. It is up to the youth to tap into these opportunities to gain skills needed on the job market but also use your gifts to be the engine of national development,” Ngirente said.
Dr. Ngirente was this Wednesday speaking at the 8th launch of the 2019 Youth Connect Convention and awarding ceremony of the best youth enterprises selected at the national level.
70% of Rwandans are youth and from 2013-2018, the University of Rwanda graduated 32,938 students.
Of them, 54% graduated in Sciences Technology engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and 46% STEM areas.
These figures have created demand for employment projecting unemployment rate to 13.2%.
The Youth Connekt 2019 awarded the best four and promising youth enterprises whose business model is susceptible of creating jobs to benefit the youth.
The four finalists, with Agri-business, ICT, service and value addition ideas were selected countrywide from the sector and district levels this year.
The four winners are Pierre Niyomugaba who makes perfumes and ants and mosquito repellant oils from eucalyptus tree leaves, Taaka Belinda enterprise which recycles vehicle tires to make home furniture to recycle the dumped tires.
Umuhesha- an online platform seeks to connect home maids to employers, while Benjamin Ishimwe with a fashion business designs African and Rwandan fabric into office wear to promote made in Rwanda.
The overall winner was Pierre Niyomugaba, the inventor of mosquito repellant oils, walking away with Rwf7.5million while the others three winners also got Rwf5million each.
“I need this money to scale up production because it is business with potential to make money. Currently, my biggest order is of 120 litres from which I will make Rwf1.2million,” Niyomugaba said.
He also expects to create more jobs through retail services of the oils that could be part of a solution in controlling malaria cases in Rwanda.
At the event, other youths also used the opportunity to show their challenges in accessing funding for small and medium enterprises and requested for more funding and support from government.
The PM asked the Business Development Fund (BDF) to intervene and provide funding and skills training for all business ideas which have a similar challenge in order to boost youth driven businesses.