Seven young men and women were on Tuesday evening recognised for their outstanding services to the nation through their entrepreneurial acumen, during the fourth edition of Imbuto Foundation’s Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers Awards (CYRWA).
The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, presented awards to the youth at a dinner event in Kigali.
They include, Clarisse Ilibagiza, Emmanuel Hitimana, Isabelle Kamaliza, Esther Mbabazi, Dominique Ntirushwa, Chance Tubane and Violette Uwamaliya.
“This is a dream come true. Now I realise that not even the sky is the limit,” Mbabazi, Rwanda’s first female pilot, said.
They were nominated by the general public for inspiring other youth through their devotion towards the country’s development.
In her speech, Mrs Kagame commended the efforts of the youth in rebuilding the country.
“As we reflected on the mission and values of Imbuto Foundation, we were reminded of how important it is, to recognise exemplary young people who break out of their comfort zones, who think and work differently, who are able to bring to life innovative ideas that propel them beyond what society expects of them,” Mrs. Kagame said.
“We are here tonight to appreciate their meaningful participation in Rwanda’s ambitious vision, and to celebrate their stories, their sacrifice and their success.”
She challenged the youth to discern and identify the needs of the country and work along finding solutions, instead of becoming a ‘small elite that is preoccupied with status.’
“We cannot afford to be naïve about how the world continues to be managed. What we experience daily as a young nation teaches us that although most African countries have been celebrating 50 years of independence, powerful countries are still making decisions on our behalf. Individuals might be good, but international systems can be destructive. As Rwandans and as Africans we should not rely on self-serving external forces to define or shape us,” she said.
“Instead we must be discerning enough to identify what benefits us as individuals and as a country because we understand what our needs are, how to best meet them, and what is required of us to succeed and thrive. Let it be clear, we are in charge of our lives.”
The event was graced by Ashish Thakkar, Africa’s youngest billionaire, who gave an inspirational speech to an audience of 200 young professionals.
“Commitment, passion and trust will make you successful; but above all, when you are successful, you must remember to give back to society so that your community benefits through your labour,” Ashish said.
Ashish is the founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation. He started his first IT company in 1996 at the age of 15 and since then, he has driven the growth of Mara Group to a globally recognised conglomerate with operations in 26 countries, employing over 7,000 people.
In its last three editions, Imbuto’s CYRWA has awarded 22 young Rwandan for achievements in leadership, entrepreneurship, art, sciences and community mobilisation.
WHO ARE THE WINNERS?
Last year, this young man initiated a campaign on social media, calling on the public to assist the suffering people in the war-torn Somalia. Within 24 hours, he had received pledges from 300 people on Facebook, willing to contribute to this campaign.
Armed with passion and the capacity to empathise with the suffering people, even beyond the borders of Rwanda, this young Rwandan raised $60,000 (Rwf 33.6m) under the Rwanda for Somalia Campaign.
For his compassion, sensitivity and his ability to mobilise the community around a cause, he won the Imbuto Foundation CYRWA 2013 Award.
Kamaliza is the President of Solid Africa. She visited one of the largest hospitals in Kigali and could not believe the sight before her. Patients could not pay their bills for weeks on end or afford food. With an extraordinary gift for giving back to her community this young lady followed her heart and led like-minded peers to start a non-profit organization to help vulnerable patients in public hospitals. Solid Africa runs five programmes at the University Central Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).
They include Gemura (food for all), Kiza (Medical expenses), Sukura (Hygiene), Gombora (paying hospital bills and giving transport to patients) and Menya (advocacy and awareness). Everyday, Solid Africa provides breakfast to over 300 patients at CHUK.
For her caring and generous heart, Imbuto Foundation awarded her the CYRWA 2013 Award.
Filled with dynamism and courage, this young lady applied her Computer Engineering skills to address the information access challenges in Rwanda. She believes that ‘there is no effort without error”.
She is the CEO of a mobile technology company that has developed applications to provide young girls with a voice; a platform where they can receive advice and exchange ideas. In 2011, she along with other young ICT entrepreneurs launched iHills, Rwanda's tech start-up network, founded on the simple premise that Rwanda can be the birthplace of the next big break through in technology.
For her entrepreneurial mind and drive Imbuto Foundation presented her the CYRWA 2013 Award.
For this young woman, the sky literally is the limit. With lots of energy, and a strong work ethic she always dreamt of a successful career in the aviation industry. She continued to work hard until her dream finally came true. She became the first Rwandan female pilot.
For her persistence and achievement in a field traditionally reserved for men, Imbuto Foundation honored her with the CYRWA 2013 Award.