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Cocoki's Young Leaders

Cocoki's Young Leaders

On August 2nd, Indego will celebrate the success of 25 young artisans as they graduate from Indego’s second semester of Young Leaders Academy and improve the operations of their cooperatives across Rwanda!

The Young Leaders Academy provides graduates of our Vocational & Business Training program in Rwanda with the advanced business education and intensive technology training they need to enhance the productivity of their cooperatives and spearhead change in their communities. From marketing and accounting, to supply chain management and product innovation, Indego’s YLA students not only learn the ins and outs of running a successful business, but also get the opportunity to apply those concepts in real time to their own artisan enterprises.

Ali Nzabarinda and Jennifer Musugi, two graduates of Indego’s inaugural semester of Young Leaders Academy, are using what they learned at YLA to help boost the creativity and sales of their artisan cooperative, Cocoki. 

Soon after participating in Indego’s education programs, Ali, Jennifer, and other members of Cocoki Cooperative began posting pictures of their handsewn apparel on Instagram and Facebook in the hope of attracting new client attention. It wasn’t long before Cocoki received inquiries from a range of clients, including a buyer from Switzerland and a well-known dance troupe in Rwanda. The cooperative was even approached by a client in Germany who paid Cocoki to teach some of its employees how to sew. Ali attributes this success to Cocoki’s use of strategic social media marketing.

“I learned both practical and digital skills during YLA,” says Ali. “But the training really helped me implement new ideas at Cocoki, like using social media to market our products and become more competitive.”

A longtime partner of Indego Africa, Cocoki produces handsewn shirts, men’s suits, and women’s apparel. With Rwanda’s recent emphasis on local production and the consumption of goods and services Made-In-Rwanda, social media has been an integral part of the sewing cooperative’s marketing strategy.

“Young people are the ones who use social media the most, so our target market is usually sewing shirts and other clothes for them,” says Ali. “It’s a great way to show people where they can buy clothes locally.”

Since participating in YLA, Ali has also helped Cocoki think more creatively about its production. Some of the cooperative’s new designs have received a lot of local attention, earning its members accolades on social media and invitations to participate in fashion design competitions in Rwanda and neighboring Burundi.

“I feel proud when I meet someone wearing the clothes that I sewed,” says Ali. “It feels good to have your name known here in Rwanda.” 

After six months of advanced entrepreneurship training, our second graduating class of 25 talented and ambitious artisans are off to do great things. We can’t wait to share what our graduates do next as we continue to welcome new students to the Young Leaders Academy and help build the next generation of changemakers in Rwanda!

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The Young Leaders Academy is generously supported in part by the Ann B. Zeis Scholarship Fund which was established by Marta and Jeff Zeis to help honor the memory of their daughter, Ann Bernadette Zeis- a passionate supporter of Indego Africa. 

To celebrate the life of this remarkable young woman, Indego has released a new basket handwoven in Rwanda that displays a sunflower motif in honor of Ann’s favorite flower. Each purchase of the Annie B. Plateau helps carry on Ann’s legacy by providing women with the knowledge and skills they need to grow their own businesses and improve their communities.