Regis Umugiraneza has emerged winner of this year’s Innovative Entrepreneurship Award organised by Survivors Fund, Youth Employment and Training Programme and Association of Student Survivors (AERG).
Umugiraneza, who pitched a business idea about a sweet pasta project for producing spaghetti from sweet potatoes, beat other nine contestants to the crown.
He won credit facilitation worth Rwf5 million, and will also be assisted with capacity building during the initial stages of the project.
Protais Zigama pitched an idea on producing Fiya bananas and was the first runner-up, while Innocent Mugabo was third. His business idea was a pineapple growing project. Anne Marie Murekatete, who pitched an events planning business idea and Aline Ariko Kayitesi, with a soap making project, Shyogwe Soap solutions, were fourth and fifth, respectively.
While speaking at the awards ceremony, Jean de Dieu Mirindi, the AERG national co-ordinator, urged unemployed young people to join the business world, saying it is the ‘best’ solution anyone can ever get.
He said those who lack skills and startup capital can always utilise the various initiatives that provide business training.
However, Jean Paul Kabeera, Youth Employment and Training Programme co-ordinator, expressed concern over the hardships youth go through to access startup capital.
“The interest rates are also high. This stifles business growth since startups cannot afford such rates,” Mirindi said.
He advised the youth to use partner institutions such as Duterimbere, saying they offer low interest loans of as low as 15 per cent for youth projects.
Umugiraneza called on youth to spearhead the country’s development through innovation and entrepreneurship.
“We can use locally-available raw materials to make products that can compete on the international market, hence improve export volumes and value,” Umugiraneza said.
This is the fourth phase of completion of the youth entrepreneurship training programme (YETP). YETP was set up in collaboration with AERG and Survivors Fund in April 2012 to help reduce youth unemployment among Genocide survivors, mostly university graduates and secondary school leavers.