Why 20-year-old Ishimwe won the 'Queen's Young Leaders' award

This year, 20-year-old Yvette Ishimwe was one of the two lucky winners from Rwanda selected to receive the ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ award at Buckingham Palace, London.
 Yvette Ishimwe meets Queen Elizabeth. Left: Ishimwe's project offers authentic innovative solutions to water scarcity. Courtesy photos
Yvette Ishimwe meets Queen Elizabeth. Left: Ishimwe's project offers authentic innovative solutions to water scarcity. Courtesy photos

This year, 20-year-old Yvette Ishimwe was one of the two lucky winners from

Rwanda selected to receive the ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ award at Buckingham

Palace, London.

The award celebrates inspiring young people from all over the Commonwealth that are dedicated to driving change in their communities and beyond. Ishimwe was recognised by Queen Elizabeth for her work that includes reducing the burden on women and children through improving access to safe water. She had a chat with Women Today’s Barbara Burabyo about what the award means to her and how she

intends to impact lives.

Tell us about your project.

It is a social enterprise called Iriba Clean Water Delivery Ltd which offers authentic innovative solutions to water scarcity. We do this through extracting it from natural sources (lakes, springs), treating it using a system called Ultra Violet water purifier; and then supplying the treated water to people’s households at an affordable cost using bicycles, piping systems and through our water collection centres or kiosks.

Is your passion for this derived from your background in science?

I studied Physics, Chemistry and Biology in high school, but currently, I’m completing my Bachelor’s in Business Management with concentration in Logistics and Operations at Southern New Hampshire University because my dream was to always become a businesswoman.

With the current increase of knowledge lately, it’s very easy to achieve your dream despite your education background. The one thing that I am looking forward to before I grow old is to build a very successful business which will impact my community positively and employ many people.

What does innovation mean to you?

Many girls think that innovation is for scientists but I think that they need to change that perspective. Innovation is not only about science, it is about anything that can help you achieve your dreams, and making a remarkable difference in your own community.

What is the biggest challenge that you have encountered and how did you handle it?

Combining studies while running a business. This, I managed by ensuring proper time management, through prioritising my tasks and making sure I have completed each task at a time. I also had to dedicate time to some tasks, especially for my employees, so that I could get enough time to focus on my academics as well.

Early this year you received the ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ award. How does it feel being made the Queen’s Young Leader?

I was very happy and excited. I felt so honoured meeting her and it was one of the best moments I have ever had in my life so far. I was lucky to be among the winners because they realised that my project has the potential to impact my community, and the award became a fuelling force that encouraged me to do more for my community and country at large as a leader, to work even harder and transform people’s lives.

How is this award going to change your project and business?

It has already changed my project by attracting potential partners, financially.

As a young visionary, what advice would you give the youth?

I would advise them to get out of their comfort zones and make the first step towards making their dreams a reality. I think the most important thing a person needs to do to achieve success is to simply start.

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