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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog #vocationaltraining

Meet The Gahembe Girls!

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

In 2016, Indego Africa launched its Vocational Training program in Rwanda for young people seeking a career path. Upon graduation, students had the option to join the cooperative they had interned with or start their own. That’s why we wanted to introduce you to 15 women from Rwanda’s Bugesera District who came together and decided to launch their very own basket weaving enterprise, Gahembe. These #bossladies took the skills they learned from participating in Indego’s Vocational Training program at other cooperatives and applied them to their brand new business venture.

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As the founding members of Gahemebe Cooperative, one of Indego’s newest and most successful partner cooperatives, these women have a lot to share. To find out what it takes to be an empowered woman, a successful entrepreneur, and a mentor to other girls, we interviewed five of Gahembe’s leading #bossladies: Violate, Claudette, Claudine, Meditrice, and Lilianne. Learn more about Indego’s Vocational Training program here and read the powerful interview below!

What does being an empowered businesswoman mean to you? 

Violate Mukazigama, 25: “I feel lucky to be an entrepreneur. I work every day and earn money to buy the things I need and save for the future. Being an empowered woman means being someone who can not only make positive changes in her own life, but can also bring positivity to the lives of others. To be empowered is to empower other people as well.”

Claudette Mukeshimana, 26: “It feels good to be able to plan for my future and use the income I earn to make decisions for myself. Being an independent, empowered woman means being a valuable part of society.”

Claudine Mukabera, 27: “I am so happy because now I can do things I wasn’t able to do before, like weaving baskets and working in a cooperative with other women. As an empowered woman, I have the knowledge and confidence to achieve the things I want in life.” 

Meditrice Tuyisabe, 26: “Being an empowered woman means being a strong woman who can not only help herself, but also help others in her community reach their goals. I feel proud to be an entrepreneur because now I am the decision maker and no longer need other people to provide everything for me.”

Lilianne Mukanshuti, 25: “It makes me happy to be an entrepreneur who has started my own business. An empowered woman means being independent, strong, and confident. Now I earn income and decide for myself how to use that income.”

What does it mean to be a good leader?

Lilianne“A good leader is a good decision maker. She always thinks about how to make positive changes for her organization.”

Violate: “To be a good leader is to be honest and disciplined. A good manager treats the people she leads as her equals, and works with them without looking for personal gain.”

Claudine:  “A good leader must be a good listener and a good manager of time. She is smart, skillful, and thoughtful, and always puts other people’s interests above her own.”

How has your partnership with Indego Africa impacted your life?

Claudette: “Before working with Indego Africa, I never believed I could weave, let alone make a business out of it. Now, I not only make money from weaving, but I also help manage Gahembe Cooperative and have plans to expand my business in the future.”

Meditrice: “I feel proud to be an entrepreneur because now I am the decision maker. I no longer need other people to provide everything for me. Partnering with Indego Africa has opened my mind and given me the courage to become an independent person who does not need to rely on other people’s income.”

Claudine:  “Joining a co-op and working together with other women has completely changed my life. There is nothing better than finding people who help you grow and using the skills you’ve learned to turn your dreams into reality.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to other women starting their own business?

Claudette: “Be creative and don’t be afraid to work hard.”

Meditrice: “Don’t be afraid to fail. Anything is possible with a willing heart.” 

Claudine:  “Be self-reliant, be confident, and always save for the future.”

Violate: “Always work hard and never get discouraged.”

Lilianne: “Think outside the box. You may be surprised by how much you can accomplish.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. These women are true inspirations to working #bossladies everywhere and we are honored to be a part of their journey. Stay tuned for more!

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National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day #NWGHAAD

#impact, #education, #vocationaltraining

This National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), Indego Africa wants to empower women and girls to make the best choices they can when it comes to protecting themselves and others from HIV. That’s why we’ve initiated a Sexual Health Training program for our Vocational Training students in Rwanda!

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This past summer, a group of women at the Abasangiye Cooperative in the Kayonza district of Rwanda brought an important topic to light during their first semester of Vocational Training. While the group of Vocational Trainees were learning to sew, they overheard older members of the cooperative talking about their HIV treatment. The young women became worried that they could be infected through pin pricks while sewing and immediately raised their concerns with Indego’s Education Manager in Rwanda.

Through conversations between

our Rwanda team and the Vocational Trainees, we recognized that these young women needed training on HIV prevention and transmission, as well as sexual health education more broadly. They were concerned about their health, specifically about HIV/AIDS, but did not have sufficient information about how to protect themselves.

To address this

critical knowledge gap, we set up Sexual Health Training workshops for all of the young women participating in our Vocational Training program and invited Indego’s older artisan partners to join as well. The course, taught by an experienced female Rwandan health trainer, focused on HIV/AIDS and STI transmission, prevention, and symptoms, but also incorporated lessons on gender-based violence and reproductive health and care. The instructor provided the young women with guidance about how to discuss sexual health with partners and encouraged them to be proactive about “knowing their status” through regular check-ups and blood tests.

The workshop has given

our partners across five different cooperatives (many of whom have never learned about sexual health in an education setting) the opportunity to learn about these topics in a safe and positive environment, to ask questions about their health, and to relay important safety information to their children and families. 

***

At Indego, we believe

true empowerment requires a holistic approach. Today, as we shed light on the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls around the world for #NWGHAAD, we want to highlight the success of our Sexual Health Training program in Rwanda with some quotes from Vocational Trainees themselves. 

“I learned a lot from the

training including how important HIV/AIDS prevention is. It’s good to get in the habit of having regular checkups because it helps you make valuable health decisions. It is also not good to exclude people who are HIV positive. Though you might be infected with HIV/AIDS, there is still hope.” –Brigitte, 25, Bravers Cooperative

“It’s so important that we get this training while we are young. The youth are the ones who have a poor  understanding of sexual relations here in Rwanda, especially girls of my age. Many get pregnant or get HIV because they do not have this information.” –Jennifer, 19, Cocoki Cooperative

“The most important thing I learned is how much the HIV rate has increased in Rwanda. I was also very young when I got sexual health training before. Now at Indego, I understand everything.” –Olive, 26, Cocoki Cooperative 

“After completing Indego Africa’s Sexual Health Training, my co-op members discussed and decided that everyone should have their own sharp sewing tools and go to the hospital for regular blood checkups.” –Francine, 28, Covanya Cooperative

“The most important thing I learned is to take care of HIV/AIDS positive people. We should never  exclude them.” –Liliane, 24, Covanya Cooperative 

As we strive to create a world in which young women can reach their full potential, we believe it is crucial to provide women and girls with access to relevant and comprehensive information about their bodies and their health. Indego Africa is committed to continuing and expanding its workshops for young women on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, STI transmission, and sexual and reproductive health more broadly. 

Today

and every day, we show our support for women and girls impacted by HIV and AIDS by providing them with the education, tools, and resources to change the world.

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Sexual Health Education for Young Women in Rwanda

#artisans, #impact, #community, #education, #programs, #vocationaltraining

75% of adolescents who live with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are girls. Research by the U.N. shows that social, cultural, and economic factors—including gender inequality, gender-based violence, lack of financial independence, and lack of access to sexual education—can make young women especially vulnerable.

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Last year, we at Indego Africa expanded our work with artisans in Rwanda to include a new focus on empowering youth. We launched a Vocational Training program to help young, unemployed women in rural Rwanda—a highly vulnerable population—build careers in the artisan sector through technical training and business education.

The goal of this program was to help young women gain critically-needed employment opportunities and earn sustainable income. However, after the program started, we discovered another critical need: sexual health education. 

While a group of Vocational Trainees were learning to sew at the

Abasangiye Cooperative in Rwanda, they overheard older members of the cooperative talking about their HIV treatment. The young women became worried that they could be infected through pin pricks while sewing and immediately raised their concerns with our Education Manager in Rwanda. 

Through conversations between our Rwanda team and the Vocational

Trainees, we recognized that these young women needed training on HIV prevention and transmission, as well as sexual health education more broadly. They were concerned about their health, specifically about HIV/AIDS, but did not have sufficient information about how to protect themselves.

We firmly believe that women and girls around the world deserve

access to relevant, comprehensive sexual health education in order to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health. According to UN AIDS, in sub-Saharan Africa only 28% of young women report that they have sufficient knowledge about how to protect themselves from HIV. 

Further,

in 2015, 7.3% of adolescent girls in Rwanda experienced a teenage pregnancy (up 20% from 2010), a statistic driven by a lack of knowledge about reproductive health, as well as access to health services.

To

address these critical knowledge gaps, we set up Sexual Health Training workshops for all of the young women participating in our Vocational Training

program and invited our older artisan partners to join as well. The course, taught by an experienced female Rwandan health trainer, focused on HIV/AIDS and STI transmission, prevention, and symptoms, but also incorporated lessons on gender-based violence and reproductive health and care. 

The instructor provided the young women with guidance about how to discuss sexual health with partners—conversations which can be challenging, especially when unequal gender roles or financial dependence come into play—and also encouraged them to be proactive about “knowing their status” through regular check ups and blood tests.

For

some of the students, the workshop was the first time they had ever learned about sexual health in an educational setting. Others had received sexual health education before, but often in less detail. The workshop gave them an opportunity to learn about these topics in a safe, positive environment and to ask as many questions as they needed. Further, for the older women, the training gave them important guidance on how to talk with their children about these issues.

“It’s

so important that we get this training while we are young,” a 23-year-old workshop participant, Jennifer, said. “The youth are the ones who have a poor understanding about sexual relations here in Rwanda, especial girls of my age. Many get pregnant or get HIV because they do not have this information.”

Another positive (and

heartwarming!) outcome of the training was that it helped sensitize the participants to the experiences of people living with HIV/AIDS and the need for empathy. One 19-year-old woman, Liliane, said: 

The

most important thing I learned is to take care of HIV/AIDS positive people. We should never exclude them.” 

As we strive to create a

world in which young women and girls can reach their full potential, it is crucial that they have access to information about their health. Moving forward, we are committed to continuing our Sexual Health Training program for young women and expanding the curriculum to cover reproductive health, a topic which several of the participants asked for. In our mission to achieve gender equality and empower women knowledge is a powerful, and necessary, first step.  

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#GivingTuesday

#givingtuesday, #indegodiaries, #inspiring, #education, #impact, #vocationaltraining

This Giving Tuesday, help us empower young women in Rwanda!

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60% of the Rwandan population is under 24 years old. Yet most young people, especially young women, remain unemployed or underemployed, without the skills or business knowledge needed to succeed in the workforce.

At Indego Africa, we are committed to helping young women in Africa reach their full potential. Our Vocational Training program helps youth in Rwanda build sustainable career paths in the artisan sectorand lift themselves out of poverty.  

Among the 45 students in our first Vocational Training class: 0% were employed at the beginning of the program. By graduation, 100% became employed as artisans!

Our Vocational Training program is fundamentally changing the lives of young women in Rwanda. Youth who once lived without hope for the future, are now becoming businesswomen and entrepreneurs in their communities. But to keep this program alive, and reach more vulnerable young people in Rwanda, we need your support!

Donate today to transform lives—by investing in youth, you’ll invest in the future. 

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We’re Going Back-To-School!

#education, #indegodiaries, #inspiring, #back-to-school, #vocationaltraining

At Indego Africa, we invest in the future by investing in education. Since 2007, we have been leading innovative business training programs for women artisans in Rwanda to help them grow and scale their businesses, become entrepreneurs, and drive sustainable development in their communities.

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In 2016, we deepened and expanded our education programs, doubling down on the successes of our pre-existing programs—like Basic Business Training and the Leadership Academy—and launching groundbreaking new initiatives to empower youth. 

Our skills-based Vocational Training and Technology Training for the Workplace programs are transforming the landscape of opportunity for young people in Africa. 

While 0% of participants had a job at the start of our Vocational Training program, 100% became employed as artisans by the end. 

To sustain this momentum—and empower generations of Rwandans for years to come—we need your help!

From today through September 22nd, we will be running our third annual Back-to-School Campaign to raise support for our education programs in Rwanda & Ghana! We will be sharing inspiring stories, statistics, and updates over the next two weeks to show you how your support is creating life-changing opportunities for women and youth across Africa.

Click here to donate and make a difference today!

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Sewing a Brighter Future

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #education, #vocationaltraining

The story of Abasangiye is a story with a sad beginning. A sewing cooperative based in Kayonza, Rwanda, Abasangiye was founded in 2010 to provide economic opportunities for women who were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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For years, the 24 seamstresses of Abasangiye worked hard to earn income and provide for their families, sewing wine bags, coasters, and yoga bags for Indego Africa’s early product collections. However, they struggled to advance their skill sets enough to produce more complex items (like apparel) that would have enabled them to diversify their product offerings and earn more income. This, in turn, made it difficult for them to grow their business and support themselves and their families.

When

we came up with the idea to start an artisan Vocational Training program for youth in Rwanda, we knew right away that we wanted to include Abasangiye. As a little refresher, our Vocational Training program matches young, unemployed women in Rwanda with artisan cooperatives where they receive technical training and mentorship. The trainees also participate in a Basic Business Training course to help them build the skills to succeed in the workforce (check out this blog post for the full scoop). This program not only helps young people in Rwanda gain a career path, but also helps artisan cooperatives themselves recruit new, young members; build their production capacity; and improve their business management.

However,

at the time we were planning the program, Abasangiye’s artisans weren’t able to sew at the level needed to effectively train younger women in their craft, nor did they have enough orders to sustain the addition of new cooperative members.

That’s where Daniel Nshiyime came in. Daniel is our new Production Assistant—a master sewer, tailor, and teacher who spent seven years working at a sewing factory in Rwanda before he started his own tailoring business. We brought Daniel on board to help cooperatives like Abasangiye (and their vocational trainees!) improve their skill sets and sew with higher quality and complexity.

Since February, Daniel has spent three days per week at Abasangiye, conducting intensive training with the cooperative members and their nine vocational

trainees on the ins and outs of sewing. Starting with equipment care, Daniel has led the group through a progression of skills and techniques. The most game-changing? Learning how to work with patterns to sew clothing! 

Today, the artisans of Abasangiye and their trainees are able to sew dresses and skirts—including ones with zippers!—on their own, and while there is still

further to go, their final products are miles away from the wine bags and coasters with which they began. As Gaudance, the president of Abasangiye

Cooperative said (with a beaming smile on her face): “I am so excited about how good our products have become. Before, we didn’t know how to make skirts or dresses. Now we’ve learned how to work with patterns and are keeping our quality control strong.”

Having young women working and learning onsite with them has also been deeply valuable for the artisans of Abasangiye. Gaudance added: “We have wanted to recruit younger women for a long time, but we didn’t know how to do it. They are learning quickly and are helping us understand what we didn’t know before. Even when the teacher [Daniel] is gone, the young girls are helping us master what we learned about in previous classes. They can also help us find new markets. For example, they can go back to their secondary schools and help us get orders for uniforms.” 

We

could not be more impressed with Abasangiye’s nine vocational trainees ourselves! Within a short period of time, they have not only become good seamstresses but have also risen up as leaders at their cooperative. Baraka, one of the trainees, has developed such remarkable skills that, when the program ends in July, she will be assisting Gaudance, the President, as a leader of the cooperative. 

When speaking about what our Vocational Training program has meant to her, Baraka said: “this program is helpful because it is giving young people practical

skills and teaching us how to start our own businesses. It is giving us an orientation—a platform. What we learned in high school was more theoretical. We

didn’t learn anything that could help us work or start a business. This program has helped me to become self-sufficient and independent. It has also taught me

the importance of working in groups and with others from different backgrounds.” 

We

couldn’t be more pleased (and inspired!) by the progress that the artisans of Abasangiye and our vocational trainees have made this year. Working together, these two generations of women are sewing a brighter future, with a happy ending.

To  support our Vocational Training program and provide life-changing opportunities for women in Rwanda, click here

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How this program is fighting youth underemployment in Rwanda

#indegodiaries, #education, #impact, #vocationaltraining

In Rwanda, only 8 percent of young adults go to college. College tuition fees are high and, for many struggling families and individuals, the need for immediate income often outweighs the potential long-term benefits of higher education. Many of Rwanda’s youth go straight from high school and into the workforce. Some go even earlier. When they do, they find themselves without job skills, searching for employment in an economy with few wage-earning jobs on the market. Where does this all lead? A debilitating 63 percent youth under-employment rate throughout the country.

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originally posted on one.org

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These challenges are not unique to Rwanda. Countries across Sub-Saharan Africa are struggling to combat high youth un- and under-employment rates, with more than 70 percent of the region’s population under the age of 30.

Given the economic landscape for youth in Rwanda, and across Africa, there is a pressing need to equip young people—and especially young women, as they are less likely to be formally employed than men—with marketable skills to help them achieve sustainable livelihoods. So we at Indego Africa put our heads together and came up with an idea: to create a vocational training program designed to address this exact need!

How does it all work? Here’s the scoop: The program runs on six-month semesters with 45 participants per semester. Three days per week, these young people receive artisan vocational training at Indego Africa partner cooperatives—the artisan businesses responsible for the bright baskets, accessories and apparel you see on our website. There, they learn artisan craft-making techniques from sweetgrass basket weaving to sewing, beading, banana-leaf weaving and more.

The other two days out of the week, the program participants gather at a central space in Kigali (Rwanda’s capital) to take our Basic Business Training course, where they learn fundamental business skills such as bookkeeping, budgeting, quality control, marketing, and technology use for the workplace.

Programs like this, which empower youth to earn their own livelihoods, are critically needed in the communities we work with in Rwanda. While all of the participants in our Vocational Training program graduated from high school, none of them were able to continue on to college because their families could not afford the tuition. The majority now live with their parents (most of whom are also not formally employed) and scrape by on subsistence agriculture.

These circumstances leave young people in precarious and vulnerable situations, without means to provide for themselves or secure their own futures. As Clarisse, a program participant from the Kayonza Province of Eastern Rwanda, said: “[The Vocational Training] program is very important. Right now, it is very difficult for people who finish high school to find jobs—there are no wage-paying jobs, no office jobs. People who don’t get these opportunities are left behind. This program is helping us learn skills so that right after high school, we can earn income and start working.”

Clarisse’s enthusiasm for learning and working is echoed by all of our Vocational Training students. From day one of the program, they have hit the ground running, quickly mastering artisan skills and diving into the business training coursework. Some trainees have even begun to sell their own handmade products locally!

While access to vocational and business training can be life-changing for young people in Rwanda, it also has a wider impact on their cooperatives and communities. For example, most of the artisan cooperatives that we partner with are comprised of survivors of the 1994 genocide. As their members grow older, some cooperatives are starting to face challenges with their production capacity and are eager to train and incorporate younger women.

As Jacqueline, the president of Twiyubake Cooperative in Rwanda, said: “We’re struggling because some of our members are getting older and aren’t able to work as quickly. We are really excited to train these young women and bring a new generation into our cooperative. We believe that this will improve the way our business is run and keep it going far into the future.”

By training and employing young people, artisan cooperatives across Rwanda are able to ensure the longevity and sustainability of their businesses in the long-run. This, in turn, creates opportunities for younger women to rise up as leaders, grow their cooperatives, and help generate economic activity and employment opportunities in their communities.

Through hard work and determination, we have no doubt that these talented young women will, with time, begin to chip away at Rwanda’s youth underemployment problem.

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Bananas for Banana Leaf: Empowering Youth Through Banana-Leaf-Weaving

#indegodiaries, #youth, #impact, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

Twiyubake, which means “to rebuild ourselves” in the Kinyarwanda language, is an artisan cooperative made up of 27 women in the Kayonza province of Eastern Rwanda. An Indego Africa partner since 2008, Twiyubake specializes in the art of banana leaf weaving—making rustically beautiful handcrafted products using locally grown leaves (that they often pick themselves!)

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While we’ve been big fans of Twiyubake’s work since day one, it took a while for their products to catch on (and we sometimes struggled to get them enough orders because of it.) But that all changed last year when we launched our SS ’16 collection featuring beautiful summer beach bags & floor baskets) handmade by the ladies of Twiyubake! All of a sudden, orders began to pour in, and the artisans of Twiyubake found themselves so busy they could hardly keep up. 

That’s where our Vocational Training students came in. You might remember that earlier this year we launched a Vocational Training program for female youth in Rwanda (more on that here). The idea? Help young, unemployed women in Rwanda enter the workforce and earn sustainable income by training them in artisan skills and business management.

This semester of the program, there are nine young women training at Twiyubake Cooperative, all of whom were recruited (with the help of Twiyubake members!) from the surrounding Kayonza community. While none of these girls had previous artisan experience, they caught onto the craft of banana-leaf-weaving right away. They’re already working quickly to help Twiyubake meet their deadlines and even creating new products of their own! 

It’s been an exciting  experience for the Twiyubake leaders—President, Jacqueline Musabimana and Treasurer, Marie Josee Mukobwa—to train and mentor the younger women. As Jacqueline said:

“It’s good for me to learn how to manage people from different backgrounds and from different generations.  Before, I didn’t have experience in training young girls, only other women. The girls all work at different speeds, but I’m trying to get them to the same  level. I’m also teaching them discipline. I tell them: ‘I didn’t go to secondary school, but now, I’m the President of Twiyubake, and Indego Africa has trusted me to be your teacher. You, you have a diploma. You went to  secondary school. Think about how much you can achieve—you just have to work hard and focus.”

We also spoke with some of the young women to hear their thoughts on our Vocational Training program and on working at Twiyubake. Clarisse, one of the trainees, told us: 

“This program is very important. Right now, it is very difficult for people who finish high school to find jobs—there are no wage-paying jobs, no office jobs. People who don’t get these opportunities are left behind. This program is helping us learn skills so that right after high school, we can earn income and start working.”

Here, Clarisse touches on one of the main reasons we launched the Vocational Training program in the first place—Rwanda’s steep 63% youth underemployment rate. The trainees at Twiyubake describe dire circumstances in their communities—there are few, if any, jobs available for young women, leaving most to survive off of subsistence agriculture. Our Vocational Training is an opportunity for them to build marketable skills and establish a career path that will last them into the future. 

This program is also a great opportunity for our partner cooperatives themselves to gain new, younger members. As Jacqueline said: 

“We’re struggling because some of our members are getting older and aren’t able to work as quickly. We are really excited to train these young women and bring a new generation into our cooperative. We believe that this will improve the way our business is run and keep it going far into the future.”

By training young women and integrating them into their cooperatives, Twiyubake and other artisan businesses across Rwanda are helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of their enterprises as sources of income generation, employment, and artisan creativity for generations to come. 

Further, as young women graduate from our business training programs and improve their artisanal skills, they are building the skills to become future leaders, business-owners, and change-makers.

And guess what?! Through May 31st, we are running a special 30% off  summer accessories sale, featuring Twiyubake’s beautiful banana leaf beach bags! To shop, use code WEEKENDWIN at checkout

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Introducing…Vocational Training for Youth in Rwanda!

#community, #impact, #education, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

In Rwanda, only 8% of young adults go to college. College tuition fees are high and, for many struggling families and individuals, the need for immediate income often outweighs the potential long-term benefits of higher education. Many of Rwanda’s youth go straight from high school and into workforce. Some go even earlier.

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When they do, they find themselves without job skills, searching for employment in an economy with few wage-earning jobs on the market. Where does this all lead? A not-so-great 63% youth underemployment rate throughout the country. 

That’s where we want to help. Given the economic landscape for youth in Rwanda, there is a pressing need to equip young people—and especially young women, as they are less likely to be formally employed than men—with marketable skills to help them enter the workforce. So we put our heads together and came up with an idea – to create a brand-new Vocational Training program designed to address this exact challenge! 

Launched on February 8th, our six-month-semester Vocational Training program provides underprivileged young women in Rwanda with artisan skills training and business education to help them improve their livelihoods and achieve financial independence. 

How does it all work? Here’s the scoop: three days a week, 45 young women learn artisan skills at five of our partner cooperatives. The lucky five this semester? Twiyubake (banana leaf weaving); Ejo Hazaza (beading); Abasangiye (sewing); Imirasire and Covanya (both sweetgrass weaving).  

The other two days a week, the young women gather in Kigali to take our Basic Business Training course where they learn fundamental business skills like bookkeeping, budgeting, quality control, marketing, and technology.

By combining artisan skills training with business education, our Vocational Training program will help young women in Rwanda achieve long-term economic security and prosperity. At the end of each six-month cycle, our goal is for the trainees to have the option to either join the cooperatives as full-time members, having mastered the skills necessary to produce products for local and international markets, or to start businesses of their own.

The young ladies participating this semester were all chosen from the local communities around our partner cooperatives. 89% of them currently do not earn income and the remaining 11% work odd jobs that do not earn steady or substantial pay. While they all graduated from high school, none were able to continue on to college because their families couldn’t afford it.

Therefore, they are eager to take advantage of this opportunity to gain valuable job skills. As one woman, Dancille (Imirasire Cooperative) enthusiastically stated, 

“I hope to learn how to weave baskets and how to run a business so I can start my own one day and employ others.” 

Our Vocational Training program is not only valuable to the participating trainees, but also to our partner cooperatives themselves. Most of our artisan partners are survivors of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and the age demographics of their cooperatives are getting progressively older. They are excited about the opportunity to train and incorporate younger women in order to ensure the longevity and sustainability of their businesses in the long-run. This, in turn, creates opportunities for younger women to rise up as leaders, grow their cooperatives, and help generate economic activity and opportunity in their communities.

We are so excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for these young women as they seek to build brighter futures for themselves and for generations to come. They are motivated, ambitious, entrepreneurial, and ready for action. As one young woman, Olive (Twiyubake Cooperative), kindly noted: 

“Thank you Indego Africa for thinking about the youth and helping us support ourselves by learning new skills. I am ready and excited to put the knowledge I am receiving into practice.”

To support our Vocational Training and provide life-changing opportunities for young women in Rwanda, click here

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