Young innovators on what is needed to achieve 2050 goals

Twenty years after it was launch, Vision 2020 is finally just days away.

During the just concluded Umushyikirano, a mascot imaginary child named Keza Nyiramajyambere underlined essence of the transition from vision 2020 to vision 2050.

As was described by Rwanda Development Board’s Claire Akamanzi, the founder of the mascot, Keza will be 30 years old in 2050 because she was born on 19th December, the first day of Umushyikirano.

By 2050, Akamanzi said, Keza will be running and globally recognized billion-dollar tech company, employing hundreds of workers and earning billions.

Now the ultimate goal of Vision 2050 is to pave the way for her to achieve that dream.

Some young Rwandans who were below the age of 10 when 2020 was conceptualized two decades ago, are now some of the most iconic entrepreneurs.

From their experience and challenges encountered, they recommend things that needs to be fixed for Keza to achieve her dream, which they all concur is a very realistic dream.

Christelle Kwizera, 25, is a Rwandan mechanical engineer and social entrepreneur.

In 2014, Kwizera, who was barely 20, founded Water Access Rwanda, an award-winning innovative social enterprise offering tailor-made solutions in the field of collection, distribution and purification of water.

So far, the company has dispersed water to over 100,000 Rwandans.

Kwizera values basic education because, she says, it shapes personality and attitude to keep one going.

“My parents were very supportive and encouraging. They understood well the value of basic education. I remember we used to own a library at home and I started reading at a very young age,” she narrated.  

If Keza is to achieve her dreams, Kwizera said, her education background should be as strong as possible.

Her family should understand that her mental, social and physical health are the fundamentals to her personality, attitude and therefore to success.

Today, Kwizera continues, there are areas that, if not improved, would affect Keza’s future. Those include malnutrition and education.

Kwizera thinks that Rwandans still have to invest more efforts in tackling malnutrition and stunting in children.

“We definitely do not want Keza to be stunted. I know there are policies in place, but I think the issue is pressing enough to trouble Keza,” she raised concerns.

Eric Rutayisire, 28, is the founder and CEO of Charis UAS, a drone services company that he founded in 2014 as the first unmanned aerial vehicle company in Rwanda.

Rutayisire appreciates the government’s support to young entrepreneurs.

According to his experience, he thinks that Keza will need numerous mentorship programmes concerning her aspiring career because it helps to “prevent costly mistakes that can take down one’s company”.

He added that access to finance is still a challenge. Keza will need financial ability to initiate her dream enterprise.

Regis Mugiraneza, founder of CARL Group, a youth-led company that aims at providing great, innovative services through three departments providing agribusiness, environmental and architecture-related services.

For Mugiraneza, optimism, discipline and consistency is what took him through the journey to owning a company.

Although challenges always come up, Mugiraneza appreciate government’s support to young entrepreneurs so far.

However, to support Keza attain her dreams, Mugiraneza proposes that the government look into accessibility and affordability of infrastructures and facilities.

“Even if Keza was well-equipped with required skills, she will definitely need accessible set ups to settle in,” he added.

Reine Imanishimwe, 24, founded Queen Business Company. She is wood innovator and carpenter. Using her own designs, she can create anything from house to office furniture, sign posts and business cards.

Hard work and confidence to is what Imanishimwe describes as fundamental values to achieve her goal.

“My parents were hard workers themselves, I look up to them. I think, not just for Keza, but every child should be taught commitment and be encouraged to be self-confident,” Imanishimwe advised.

The “carpentry queen” dubbed so, Imanishimwe is often challenged by people who do not seem to understand her path as “a girl who does carpentry”.

“Some mindsets upon women need to be changed before Keza embark on her career life. It is very discouraging when people undermine you. I hope she will not have to face that,” Imanishimwe says.

Cyprien Iradukunda is a co-founder of Flavors of Family Planning, a TV show that teaches the role of a man in family planning.

The show was the top winner of Innovation Accelerator (iAccelerator) among 700 projects that applied for the USD 10,000 award.  

Both the founders, Iradukunda and Jean Berchmans Uwimana are medical doctors. Their inspiration, Iradukunda says, was how family planning business is pushed to women by society, which is wrong.

“Not just in family planning, I think wrong mindset still avails and has far more reaching affects than it seems,” he said.

According to him, Keza will need a society that bears the right mindset that excludes stigmatization and inequality.

“In addition, although the current pace is promising, I think ICT is a vital player in one’s development and increasingly so. I also propose that sector to be on a priority list,” he said.

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