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Back-to-School with Emelienne Nyiramana: The Power of Education

Emelienne Nyiramana is one of Indego Africa’s first artisan partners (yes, from way back in 2007!), the founder of Cocoki Cooperative, and an inspiring testament to the power of education in transforming lives. While only a few years ago Emelienne was struggling to lift herself and her family out of poverty, today - thanks to education and determination - Emelienne is a full-time Indego Africa staff member, a Teaching Associate at our Leadership Academy, and an influential mentor and leader in communities across Rwanda. We sat down with Emelienne to find out what education means to her and why she is passionate about sharing it with others. Read on to find out!

To help provide more women with the life-changing educational opportunities Emelienne has had, please consider donating to our Leadership Academy today!


How has education changed your life?

When I began participating in Indego Africa’s trainings, I started to think big and was inspired to continue my education. Since then, I have gained so much and not just financially – I have grown mentally too. Education has enabled me to open my mind and pursue opportunities I had never even dreamed of. 

You have become a mentor to many women in Rwanda,  such as the artisans of Abasangiye & Ejo Hazaza. Why is mentoring other women important to you?

Mentoring is very important to me because it gives me a chance to share what I learned through my education and help other women achieve more so that their lives can change just as mine has. It is encouraging and very important to me when other women trust me and appreciate my advice, and it is also humbling at the same time when they say they want to be able to follow in my footsteps.


Why did you want to become a Teaching Associate at Indego Africa’s Leadership Academy?

I wanted to become a Teaching Associate to share the knowledge I have received from my education with Indego Africa to uplift other women. I believe the Leadership Academy is important for the following reasons:

(1) The lessons are very good and helpful because they combine business knowledge with computer training and English vocabulary, which are useful to cooperatives/ individuals that want to be better entrepreneurs.

(2) Networking during the class allows students from different cooperatives to discuss and share their opinions and ideas with one another, which encourages them to learn from each other. This also helps them to build professional and/or personal relationships with each other.

(3) Students are able to focus and give their utmost attention to the program and enjoy what they are learning without any distractions. Before, when trainings were carried out at the cooperatives, some students would try to listen to the trainers and work at the same time so they could get paid at the end of the day. Therefore they could not be fully committed to learning. At the Leadership Academy they are able to dedicate two days a week to studying and also have enough time to work, which makes a good balance.


How does the Leadership Academy impact its students?

The Leadership Academy gives  students with the knowledge and skills they need to better manage their businesses. The graduates from the first Academy class have been able to change the way they run their cooperatives. For example, some have gotten bank accounts, which they use to pay members and avoid mismanagement of funds. Others have learned new technical skills from their co-students that they did not know before in the hope of accessing different markets.

What has been your favorite moment at the Leadership Academy so far?

My favorite moment was the day we introduced our students to Chromebooks. They were so excited to work with them that no one wanted to take a break. We practically had to force them to go home at the end of class!

Why did you want to become a full-time Indego Africa staff member? What are your dreams for the future?

I wanted to become an Indego Africa staff member to expand my knowledge about international NGOS and to work closely with Indego’s (more than) 800 artisan partners. My dreams for the future are to complete my studies and continue to mentor other women through business trainings. I hope to empower them to go back-to-school as well! 

Please help Emelienne achieve her dreams and empower more women in Rwanda to go back-to-school by donating to our Leadership Academy today!

To support our Leadership Academy through the Ann B. Zeis Scholarship Fund, click here