At least 32 Rwandan top-performing scholars have been enrolled into a paid professional internship at Equity Bank Rwanda Plc during the launch of the Equity Leadership Programme (ELP) Rwanda Chapter, a programme sponsored by Equity Bank Plc. Established in 1998 as a rigorous leadership development programme for top-performing students, ELP aims to create a community of transformative leaders who work together across borders and various sectors to drive sustainable economic growth and social progress in Africa. It involves taking the best performing high school graduates from the communities where Equity Bank Plc has business operations and providing them with a paid internship programme that allows them to pay for their university education. The scholars are exposed to a high-performing environment and are taught values of hard work, work ethics, customer service, communication skills, integrity and professionalism, according to the foundation. Before the launch of the Rwandan Chapter, the scholars took part in a seven-day boot camp that aimed to empower them with leadership skills and introduce them to bank operations. According to James Mwangi, the Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc, Equity Bank Rwanda Plc will also provide the scholars with digital works during the holidays. The bank will employ or help the youth and create their own businesses as well as give back to the community. He revealed that Equity Bank Rwanda Plc has the capability to sustain the programme on its own, having turned 10 operating in Rwanda, adding that they even have capacity to provide jobs to other scholars. Since inception, about 7,000 scholars have benefitted from internships at Equity Bank prior to joining local or global universities. Mwangi said that the programme is now based on the number of branches every country has; where in Rwanda, every branch has enrolled the top-performing high school graduate in their area of operation, adding that as the branches grow, the scholars will grow too because now Equity Bank Rwanda Plc has the capacity to absorb them. “By investing in shaping the leadership of the community, we are building a better environment for operation. We have invested in better leadership to ensure that society is as good as its leaders,” he said. Gaspard Twagirayezu, the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education said that the programme will empower the scholars with advanced skills to help them solve the problems society is facing and will introduce them to career development as they prepare to start university. He thanked Equity Bank Rwanda Plc and urged other stakeholders to set up programmes that help in promoting education for Rwandan youth. He also urged students to think smartly as they work on solving available problems and keep studying well to become the best, adding that the opportunity was for any student with good marks regardless of their education background. Marie Louise Umutoni, a student from Huye District said that she is thankful because she never thought of getting an opportunity to work in a bank, adding that she strives to become a good leader with good values as trained during the boot camp. She expects to attend global universities, develop her career and start saving money from her salary for the future. Joseph Irakiza Ishimwe, who hails from Rubavu District said that the programme has equipped him with excellent leadership skills and has saved him from unemployment. He revealed that during the boot camp, he has also learned how the bank operates and has interacted with different leaders who inspired him to aim higher as he chases his dreams. Equity Bank operates in at least six countries with operations in at least six countries in East Africa, counting over 14 million customers. Gaspard Twagirayezu, the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education. James Mwangi, the Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc.