Despite ambitions in job creation and entrepreneurship, the Rwandan ecosystem is often plagued with challenges of a mismatch between available jobs and skills. This has often seen graduates unable to fill some of the existing job positions and firms advertising over and over again unable to find suitable staff.
A local start-up is however attempting to solve the challenge in a unique way to provide on the job training at the same time provide local firms with consultancy services.
BAG Innovation is a youth consultancy agency based in Kacyiru and founded by Gabriel Ekman and Yussouf Ntwali, last year in May.
The company was founded after research revealed that many companies do not recognise the challenges of skills and experience among young job seekers and startup founders.
The firm’s purpose was to give a chance to the youth, graduates and university students to gain skills of solving real-life business challenges and link them with internship placements and job opportunities.
“We wanted to train the young people getting into the job market on aspects like problem solving. Usually a company approaches us with a challenge and asks us to find a solution. We gather a group of students from different universities; we put them in groups of five to seven innovators and give them a tasks to work on within a specific amount of time,” Ntwali said.
He says that BAG Innovation uses tech platforms channels to select students; they have a Google forums where applicants can express interest and take tests to test their efficiency and skills.
A group of business experts screen and evaluate applicants whereby they consider multiple aspects. After selection, applicants are taken through capacity building with an aim of growing and developing their careers.
Ntwali said, “When companies come to us with challenges for instance; they may want to penetrate a new market in Rwanda. We offer that service by organizing young people to work on that problem. We offer effective and innovative consultancy services using the young people’s ideas.”
He noted that the team leaders give a written report elaborating the approaches used, outputs and suggestions regarding the project provided.
The results are presented in a formal presentation to the company.
The company focuses on youth aged between 20 and 35 years.
Ntwali noted that given the task and the challenge, they also use mentors and business leaders who give feedback and assist in strategy improvement. That way, young people are empowered as they work on actual clients’ projects.
These students come up with sales strategies, marketing strategies, market penetration strategies, position and market research, he said.
“So far, we have trained over 2,000 students in Rwanda, and about 600 students have graduated from BAG Innovations programme.
“When you have worked on your challenge and presented it to the companies successfully, that is when you can graduate,” Ntwali says.
The company’s co-founder explains that their social impact is to train as many people as possible. The BAG innovatory training is open to anyone, with about 80 per cent applicants selected.
However, he noted a section of applicants drop out easily especially those that do not see the value of the work.
Explaining that some young people think everything has to have a definite salary or pay, he said that some leave too early hence missing out on opportunities.
Ntwali noted that the company is looking for the top talents in Rwanda and is currently composed of six employees.
“We connect students to different companies. We also give them temporary and full time job opportunities,” the young entrepreneur said.
Ntwali added that the firm also provides employee placement. Considering that they have a data base of 6,000 students, they can easily do match making for the companies that are searching for talents.
“We are impacting as many young people as possible. We have managed to give 100 students internship placements out of the 600 that have graduated from our program,” Ntwali stresses.
The young entrepreneurs have worked with over 60 companies in Rwanda, in one year and have gained a big network in Rwanda.
Ntwali said that, among the challenges, is that they still lack partnership with any universities or higher learning institutions which would improve their relations and ties with learners.
“We are working on a mobile application where we shall be able to train many young people in Africa. A company will be able to submit a challenge and will get a response from many talented entrepreneurs to solve such a problem,” he noted.
Ntwali added that the application will provide a cross boarder consultancy and the companies will get solutions from a number of experienced people across the continent.
We are making sure that the app starts operating by next year, he said.
The company founders explain that the App will first work in Africa, if it succeeds, it will be rolled out to other countries outside Africa.
What students say
“Applying for BAG Innovation training is one of the best decisions I have ever made, through the training, I was equipped with public speaking skills, critical thinking, team work spirit, sales and marketing skills,” said Samantha Gihozo, a student.
She says that BAG Innovation connected her to her current job at Manumetal Ltd.
Eric Ndishimye , another student who got training from the firm, said that it served as a basis to discover his problem solving skills.
He has been able to work with different companies and acquired business case solving skills, presentation skills, research skills, and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis skills.