The Alumni of Genocide Survivors’ Students Association (GAERG) hosted the ‘GAERG Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Forum’ convening officials from the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, alongside GAERG youth and other stakeholders on Wednesday, September 13. The event aimed to provide a platform for youth to share their achievements, address the challenges faced by young graduates in the context of unemployment, and engage partners in finding effective solutions. Moreover, during the forum, 500 young individuals were recognised for their completion of the Youth Economic Empowerment Project (YEEP). ALSO READ: GAERG pushes for economic sustainability among Genocide survivors In 2021, GAERG conducted extensive research focusing on the issue of youth unemployment among survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The findings revealed that over 32,000 university graduates and individuals who couldn't complete their education were grappling with the same issue, unemployment. In response, GAERG launched the YEEP to offer sustainable assistance to its members, aiming to help youth secure employment, earn income, and contribute to personal and national development. In a press interview, Parfait Busabizwa, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth, underscored the abundance of youth-oriented programmes, including those tailored for GAERG youth. “During my address, I encouraged them to seize exciting opportunities for young individuals, such as the YouthConnekt Awards, where 200 youth will be honoured,” Busabizwa said. ALSO READ: GAERG members tipped on business skills, trauma therapy He said many young people present at the event have already initiated great projects. We have discovered that when youth receive grants and financial awards, it translates into collective benefits as they often hire one another. These projects not only augment their income but also contribute significantly to bolstering employment rates, Busabizwa said. Jean Pierre Nkuranga, President of GAERG, shared insights into the programme's evolution: We initiated this endeavour three years ago, and the Youth Economic Empowerment Project (YEEP) has been unwavering in its support for youth Genocide survivors. It has expanded its reach to encompass areas in Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge in the City of Kigali, as well as Kayonza, Bugesera, Rwamagana in the Eastern Province, and Kamonyi, Muhanga, Nyanza, and Huye in the Southern Province. ALSO READ: 20 years of GAERG empowering Genocide survivors, supporting Rwanda He highlighted the programme's impact, noting that it has transformed the lives of numerous youth survivors who previously grappled with unemployment. However, he acknowledged that there is still a considerable journey ahead, as only 3,200 individuals, constituting 10 per cent, have been empowered thus far. Nkuranga emphasised the importance of forging more partnerships to further its mission. “Indeed, while expanding our network of partners remains a priority, the empowered youth are poised to play a pivotal role in the uplifting of their fellow colleagues.” Transformative experiences from the graduates I'm already running my own business, said Odette Uwimana, a graduate of the programme who once struggled with unemployment. I used to be jobless, but after receiving the training, and a loan from GAERG, I took a chance. So far, I've not only repaid the loan but I have also elevated myself and my family through a small clothing business. Interestingly, I studied accounting at the university, but job opportunities were scarce. GAERG's programme has been a lifeline for me. With just Rwf300,000 from the loan, I've remained steadfast in my business pursuits. Another graduate, Jean Neretswe, proudly shared his journey: I founded Gwiza Innovation Company, specialising in wood production. Despite being a teacher, my aspirations always leaned towards entrepreneurship. Today, I can support young people in various endeavours, offering mentorship and employing over 400 individuals, all of whom receive fair compensation. It's all thanks to the programme. I now feel empowered to contribute to my country in meaningful ways. “I've transcended my past struggles with depression, and I firmly believe that venturing beyond one’s comfort zone, seeking guidance, and heeding advice always lead to positive outcomes. My ultimate aspiration is to help GAERG train more youth for a brighter future.