How GAERG members and beneficiaries benefited Youth Economic Empowerment Programme (YEEP)
Twenty-nine years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, the problems of unemployment and poverty persist amongst the Genocide survivors and continue to be transmitted from one generation to another.
Unemployment is a major problem for the well-being of Rwandans, especially young Genocide survivors. The National Survivor’s Association of Graduate Students (GAERG) and their partner’s Survey 2021 shows that unemployment is the most common problem among youth genocide survivors, with 32,000 unemployed.
The issues mentioned in the above statement affect the living conditions, economic, social, and mental life of youth genocide survivors.
That is why GAERG organized the Youth Economic Empowerment Program (YEEP) to support its beneficiaries, especially youth survivors.
To address this serious issue, the organisation received support from Survivors Funds (SURF) to overcome unemployment for GAERG graduate student members and beneficiaries. The project targets 850 beneficiaries each year in the areas of entrepreneurship, work readiness, professional internship, and vocational training.
A year and months have passed since the project kicked off. So, what has it achieved so far? We visited different beneficiaries to witness how the project has changed their lives.
Supportive families were born: An experience in Kigabiro, Rwamagana district
On a cloudy morning of January 10, 2023, Alice Umutoni stands in front of different members of GAERG in the main hall of the Kigabiro sector, Rwamagana district. They are grouped into four families and their faces are displaying enthusiasm.
The trainer who works for GAERG is talking about some of the qualities of a good family, highlighting that its members should be active, support each other’s businesses, visit each other routinely as well as check up on each other more often – things she believes play a significant role in strengthening their bond.
The families have been brought together in a transformative way after the members underwent several training through YEEP. By providing comprehensive training and support, the project not only equipped members with the skills they need to succeed but has also created a community of support where they can thrive.
The families are a testament to the power of YEEP, as they have emerged stronger, more confident, and more connected than ever before. The project’s approach ensures that they have the tools and resources they need to succeed and to build a better future for themselves and their loved ones.
Angelique Uwimbabazi belongs to one of the families called Amizero. She is a beneficiary of YEEP and currently runs a grocery shop in Rwamagana market.
To her, being part of the family became life-changing.
“The members make me feel that I am not alone,” she explains. “Whenever I face an issue, I engage them to help me handle it whether financially or with pieces of advice.”
Through YEEP, Uwimbabazi also acquired entrepreneurship skills that allowed her to think big as well as advisory and financial support that helped her to build resilience.
Amizero family also has a saving group that helped Uwimbabazi to secure a loan that contributed to the growth of her business.
Like many other YEEP beneficiaries, Uwimbabazi thanks GAERG and SURF for their support and urges them to continue supporting and advocating for vulnerable people across Rwanda.
Members’ businesses recovered
When Covid-19 affected Pascasie Ntivuguruzwa’s decorating business which was her major source of income, her development was hindered and so was her hope.
That was before the GAERG member was enrolled in YEEP and acquired entrepreneurship skills that helped her to revive and run her business in better conditions.
“I learned how to provide my clients with better services and how to deliver what we have agreed upon on time,” she explains. “These skills helped me to secure new valuable customers. I also acquired skills concerning project development and implementation, market research, competition analysis and how to use social media to market and promote my products and services.”
Upon completing the training programme, Ntivuguruzwa also secured a Rwf 400,000 loan that helped her business to recover from Covid-19 effects.
“I added latest wedding attires and other new products to my shop, which attracted more customers. My business is now stable. I manage to repay the loan on time and I am planning to expand my business as I get more profit,” she says.
Ntivuguruzwa is one of GAERG members whose business recovered after undergoing YEEP.
Members secured jobs
For instance, Jean Pierre Kwizera, 28, secured a job at Radisson Blu and Convention Center as a Sewage Treatment Plant Operator. This happened after being trained on work readiness through YEEP when he was a fresh university graduate.
“Through YEEP,” he testifies, “I acquired job hunting and keeping skills including ‘how to look for a job’, ‘how to behave during a probation period’ and other different tips concerning professionalism.”
My goal, Kwizera continues, is to keep working hard so that I can thrive, build a good house and have a healthy family. His employer, Eugene Gashugi testifies that Kwizera is a hardworking and disciplined employee who performs his tasks wholeheartedly and delivers good results.
Vocational training provided resulted into job creation
Before joining YEEP, Marie Claire Kanyumba, a resident in Kanombe sector, Kicukiro district had little knowledge about a sewing machine.
With the help of YEEP’s competent vocational trainers, she acquired hands on skills, mastered to operate a sewing machine operation and became an astute tailor.
She then secured a plot in Nyarugunga market which is located in Kanombe Sector, Kicukiro District and started working.
“Today,” says Kanyumba, “I can afford to get all basic needs including food and shelter. I plan to expand my business and start a shop that sells kitenges, given that some of my customers need the fabric and that I am also able to design and turn the fabric into the outfits they desire.”
The way forward
From July 2021, YEEP has generated impact to GAERG beneficiaries in the City of Kigali and the Eastern Province. The project targets in two years is 1700 and 1840 beneficiaries have reached and benefited the project through its components.
1089 GAERG beneficiaries trained onentrepreneurship regrouped into 52 savings and credit Groups. Moreover, 659 beneficiaries received the training onwork readinessincluding 47 who secured jobs through professional internship. 102 GAERG beneficiaries enrolled in vocationtraining /TVET while 246 started their own businesses. Among them 128 were linked to financial institutions to apply for loans and they received more than Rwf 52,000,000.
Even if the project has achieved some of the milestone, there is a need for improvement as the demand is still huge.
GAERG calls for support to expand the project’s reach, improve program offerings, and ensure that every youth Genocide survivor who comes through their doors has access to the tools and resources they need to succeed.