After completing high school in 2014, Herman Ruhagazi joined a savings group Duterimbere Torero whose largest composition were youth from his village.
Members were required to save a minimum of Rwf250 or more, on a weekly basis.
In 2017, Ruhagazi took a sum of Rwf50,000 from the savings group and started his business journey in horticulture, dubbed ‘Ryaneza Munyarwanda’.
Situated in Ngororero district, Western province, where he hails from, Ruhagazi grows tree tomatoes , bananas, and eggplant on just two hectors of land.
According to reports from USAID in 2017, agriculture is the foundation of the Rwandan economy, accounting for 29.5 per cent of GDP at current prices, 45.9 per cent of employment, 63 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, and 90 per cent of the country’s food needs.
Despite Rwanda’s impressive economic growth, household food insecurity and malnutrition remain a challenge, in part due to low agricultural productivity.
Nationally, 38 per cent of children under five years are stunted, while two per cent suffer from acute malnutrition (wasting or low weight-for-height), according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), Ministry of Health (MOH), and ICF International 2015.
According to the 28-year-old, malnutrition, unemployment for the vulnerable and the need to utilise his land well, inspired him to start his horticulture business.
The young entrepreneur envisioned a community with a huge number of people who can practice saving, but also curb the ordeal of teenage pregnancies by teaching them how to be independent.
After realising that a number of graduates hardly get jobs on the local market after school, he thought about starting a venture to help curb the problem.
“Surprisingly some of them have dormant land that they don’t know how it can be used profitably,
Some of the fruits grown by the enterpreneur.
“This is how I wanted to use my passion in a way that motivates them to think out of the box, he added.
As much as there is the scarcity of employment, he said the youth should not lose hope. It is not easy at the start but in the long run, he noted that one finds out that there is a huge impact.
“Even though I have not been able to receive external support, I still want to live my dream, because I want to collaborate with other youth in terms of developing ourselves,” he added.
Ruhagazi established co-operatives for his employees, for them not to be left behind regarding saving. In the near future, he wants to expand to other districts as part of his dream.
His clients include retailers in Ngororero market and other markets. He also sells his produce in neighboring shops, and to other local communities as well.
Bananas on Ruhagazi’s farm.
He is optimistic that if young people adhere to the strategy of self-employment, there is a lot to be proud of in the future.
Ruhagazi strongly believes in empowering the youth with the necessary education around self-employment and also creating job opportunities for the rest.
He aims to keep investing in teaching young entrepreneurs through sharing his own experience to have a creative and open mind for business.
He believes that there is a need to motivate young investors and entrepreneurs, saying that some of them have great ideas but don’t have mentors to guide them.
“Motivation should start right from the community because in most cases, youth are left behind and this is where a big number comes from,” he noted.
Meanwhile, from an investment of Rwf50, 000, Ruhagazi now earns a minimum of Rwf800,000 as a profit monthly after deducting all the expenses.
He has two permanent workers and many others who work casually depending on the amount of work he has.
Needless to mention, he said there is still a gap between entrepreneurs and investors adding that in most cases, when youth don’t get support, it is challenging to expand and also excel in their business.
This, he noted that is partly because of the sector’s working population.
“I believe that agriculture is one of the sectors with a huge number of operators, so there is always stiff competition around the operators trying to increase the yield as much as possible,” he added.
In his case, for instance, the industries are very far from him, which is why he would like to establish an industry in his own neighborhood and is optimistic it would help many people.Follow Lydia_AtienoM