Create your own job initiative gives young Rwandans opportunities of a life time

Jun 6, 2014

Emmanuel Niyibizi. Photo: UNDP-RWANDA/ Alice Kayibanda

Growing up in a poor family like mine, you were doomed from the start. You had no one to stand up for you or take care for you; I had to do whatever I could to survive. Emmanuel Niyibizi, 31, said.

Extreme poverty and lack of employment opportunities leave many young Rwandans, like Emmanuel, with few prospects for the future.  Over 70 percent of Rwanda’s population is under the age of thirty-five.  Many young people find it hard to find a job outside the agricultural sector.

Access to job and entrepreneurship opportunities for the youth requires improved technical and vocational training.  UNDP’s Building an Inclusive Financial Sector in Rwanda (BIFSIR) programmes supports the Government of Rwanda’s Hanga Umurimo (create your own job) initiative. The joint Initiative focuses on holistic change in the lives of young people – this includes scaling up entrepreneurship and access to finance.  

Before the “HANGA UMURIMO” project, Emmanuel was a carpenter but with very little means and capacity. Back in 2006, I started carpentry without having acquired any skills as I had stopped schooling at a very young age and I didn’t have the right equipment to do well in my business of carpentry” Emmanuel said.

With the support from the Republic of Korea, UNDP together with the Ministry of Trade and Industry have been working on building the capacities of young people, which takes place through non-formal education tools such as vocational training for basic vocational skills and entrepreneurship trainings. This support and guidance helps young people explore their options and realize their potential.

Emmanuel was among the first beneficiaries of the “HANGA UMURIMO” project and of the carpentry training center.  Because he was a fast learner and had already the manual work skills acquired during his training period, Emmanuel was selected to become a trainer of other youth who aspire to become professional carpenters. It became a turning point in his life as he was able to gain the confidence he needed to make a change.

This programme changed my life, not because it provided me with some money but because it changed the way I think about myself.  I am not some helpless person who things just happen to. I am a contributing member of society and I have control over my life,” Emmanuel said.

Today, Emmanuel is making an exemplary living and giving back to his community. Applying the skills he learned from vocational training, Emmanuel is now a full time trainer and manager of the carpentry training site.

The impact is that my trainees and I are able to make chairs, sofas, cupboards, and beds. Some of our final products are supplied to big furniture markets in the city such as Nakumatt.  Can you imagine? I am now paying my wife’s university studies and I also completed paying University fees for my brother who graduated from the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. I am proud he got a scholarship to pursue further studies. This really shows how much this project has improved young people’s  lives around this area” concluded Emmanuel.

BIFSIR programme is jointly funded by UNDP – UNCDF – Republic of Korea that supports inclusive finance activities aiming at scaling up financial inclusion opportunities and entrepreneurship for the unserved population in Rwanda.

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