At Indego Africa, we believe that education is the key to long-term empowerment and social change. That’s why we provide women and youth with the training they need to build and sustain independent livelihoods. Since 2016, our Vocational & Business Training program has addressed a critically-needed gap in Rwanda by providing a career path in the artisan sector to 180 young people and counting! Through onsite skills training and fundamental business education, our approach not only creates jobs for youth, but also helps ensure the sustainability of artisan cooperatives across Rwanda.
Many of our partner cooperatives were originally formed by genocide survivors who are now looking to increase their production capacity and maintain the legacy of their businesses. By helping train and employ young people, these women are not only passing down their knowledge and skills, but also creating leadership and growth opportunities for a new generation of artisans.
In 2017, we celebrated our 10th anniversary and took Indego’s success to the next level by launching a Young Leaders Academy! Modeled after our successful Leadership Academy, the Young Leaders Academy (YLA) provides graduates of our Vocational Training program in Rwanda with the advanced business and technology training they need to manage their artisan cooperatives and lead change in their communities.
On January 10th, Indego held a joint graduation ceremony for the most recent graduates of Vocational & Business Training and the Young Leaders Academy.
One of Indego’s Vocational Training students recited a poem about how Indego Africa helped her and her fellow graduates achieve success. “Before partnering with Indego, we had nothing in terms of weaving skills, and no real hope for a decent life in the future,” she said. “But now we live a colorful life!”
Both Vocational Training and YLA graduates are working hand-in-hand with our older artisan partners to generate economic activity at their cooperatives and in communities across Rwanda.
“Since the beginning, Indego Africa has helped changed our lives,” said Ali and Athanas, two YLA graduates who made speeches at the ceremony. “The Young Leaders Academy is a place where we learned different skills and increased our confidence. We will apply this same confidence to our cooperative businesses and everything we do in the future.”
We know our artisan partners have big dreams and big plans. So, what does the future hold for our graduates?
Since the program’s launch, four new cooperatives have been formed by graduates of our Vocational & Business Training program.
· Gahembe, a sweetgrass-weaving cooperative of 22 young women.
· Bravers, a sweetgrass-weaving cooperative of 16 young women.
· Sarah, a sweetgrass-weaving cooperative of 13 young women.
· Enrico Urungano, a banana leaf-weaving cooperative of 30 young women.
At least one member from each of these cooperatives participated in Indego’s inaugural semester of YLA, of which two graduates received scholarships to attend university in Rwanda!
Our fourth semester of Vocational Training students is off to a successful start earning income at their new banana leaf-weaving business, Enrico Urungano. This new group of weavers started producing orders for the Indego Africa collection only two months into their training- earlier than any prior semester!
It is because of our partners’ motivation to succeed that our livelihood programs for youth in Africa have such high returns on investment. We invest in them because we have confidence in their ability to achieve (and exceed!) their goals- all they need are the resources. As 2018 kicks off, we look forward to replicating this success for more young people across Rwanda.
Stay tuned for more artisan success stories in the months ahead!