The University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) through its community engagement initiative under the entrepreneurship training program recently graduated 50 entrepreneurs from different small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Burera district who were trained on business development skills in partnership with Inkomoko Business Development. UGHE is a global health science university in Rwanda that focuses on training health professionals to deliver quality health care in an inclusive manner including the world’s most marginalized communities. Among its distinctive pillars is its commitment to community development through a variety of initiatives such as the entrepreneurship training program that address the social and economic determinants of health in its community neighbours. UGHE’s entrepreneurship training program aims at tackling the skills gap among the local businesses and cooperatives in Butaro by offering a concrete package in entrepreneurial and business development skills in three phases of training, coaching or consultation and access to loans in partnership with Inkomoko. Helle Dahl Rasmussen, Director of SMEs at Inkomoko at the graduation event Over 50 entrepreneurs, from more than 36 businesses categorized into cooperatives, savings groups/associations and individual private businesses, who underwent a six-month capacity building training program phased into business management and development training, strategic business consulting and access to affordable finance as well as business risk management. The entrepreneurs said the training gave them an opportunity to gain new skills in the management of businesses. “We are now able to give better services, and attract more customers as we track what types of products and services customers need,” said Claudine Ayingeneye, a vendor of charcoal and bananas. Besides training on paying taxes, business management and bookkeeping, the traders received loans to boost their sales. Three months ago, Ayingeneye got a loan of Rwf150,000 from Inkomoko, topping her capital to Rwf400,000. Today, I have Rwf600,000 in all assets and Im also looking for new customers of charcoal in Musanze city, she said. I am very grateful to the university for the training initiative, and I would like to see more people attend similar training. In congratulating the graduands of the business skills training, Helle Dahl Rasmussen, Director of SMEs at Inkomoko urged the entrepreneurs to put into practice the skills they acquired and to share that knowledge with the rest of the community members to improve service delivery. “Customers are essential for business growth. We appreciate that you have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to be able to provide excellent services to your customers” she said. William Tibihika, member of the entrepreneurship program William Tibihika, who owns a retail shop said that he completed the training at a time when trade is booming in the wake of Covid-19. During the training, we learnt about the importance of good customer service and how to minimize expenses for business growth” Tibihika, who lives near the border with Uganda, said. Now, with Covid-19 slowing down and the border reopened, Im planning to ask for a loan and expand my business across the border. I thank the UGHE and Inkomoko for building in us the confidence to grow our businesses” he added. UGHE Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administrative and Financial Affairs, Rogers Muragije applauded the entrepreneurs for committing to complete the six months training period. “We are glad that among the 50 entrepreneurs who were trained, 31 of them are women which aligns with UGHE’s efforts to promote gender equity,” he said. “We are committed to continuing this journey of business development for the residents of Butaro community to ensure that we grow together as the University continues to expand” he added. UGHE’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administrative and Financial Affairs, Mr. Rogers Muragije at the graduation event The entrepreneurs who completed the entrepreneurship training program were each given a certificate indicating the skills they had acquired through the training. The Executive Secretary of Butaro Sector, Faustin Kayitsinga thanked UGHE and Inkomoko for their contribution to the economic development of the people of Butaro and pledged the support of the local leadership in ensuring that the business skills acquired to benefit the entire community. Speaking on behalf of the Mayor of Burera district, Hakizayezu Pierre Damien commended UGHE for their several initiatives in promoting the social and economic development of the region. “We appreciate the fact that UGHE is in Burera district for it is unusual for a global university to be located in rural settings,” he said. Hakizayezu added that the district is ready to continue the community development efforts initiated by UGHE and to ensure their sustainability in the community and beyond.