New effort to nurture youth startups

Beneficiairies of the youth agribusiness incubator programme pose for a photo at the University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine campus in Musanze District. / Régis Umurengezi

Young entrepreneurs can now breathe a sigh of relief after the Government and other partners unveiled a new initiative dubbed ‘Envisage Youth Agribusiness Incubator Programme’, which looks to help the entrepreneurs turn their startups into sustainable and profitable ventures.

The programme was unveiled on Thursday at the University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (UR-CAVM) in Musanze District, Northern Province.

The business incubation centre for youth in agribusiness is part of an initiative which officials say will remain operational to insure it mentors a critical mass of young entrepreneurs so as to accelerate the country’s agriculture growth.

The idea was championed by the Rwanda Youth in Agri-Business Forum (RYAF), which has about 12,000 members so far.

RYAF, which was initiated by five ministries in the last three years to engage youth in agribusiness, is now implementing the project in partnership with University of Rwanda, Business Development Fund (BDF), and three Finland-based universities which will be assisting the local youth to acquire high tech knowledge in entrepreneurship.

The universities are Hanken School of Economics, University of Helsinki and Aalto University.

Patrice Habinshuti, RYAF Capacity Building Manager, said that the incubator programme will equip youth with relevant knowledge and other incentives for their respective businesses to thrive.
 
“For a business to flourish one needs to be knowledgeable about that. Office space, internet and other requirements normally hurt local startups, but with our business incubation centre, that will not be the case as the centres have technicians to assist young entrepreneurs free of charge until their businesses grow,” he said.

Habinshuti added that the young entrepreneurs will be linked to banks and other financial institutions and will also be facilitated to acquire standard certificates for their respective businesses and products.

He went on to say that the programme is inclusive even for those who never enrolled in university revealing that the plan is to have a business incubation centre in every district.

The acting principal of UR-CAVM, Guillaume Nyagatare, said the programme was in line with the university’s mandate to graduate students who create jobs instead of seeking them, stressing that “the programme will accelerate the country’s agricultural growth.”

editor@newtimesrwanda.com