Some 312 students from nine secondary schools in Kicukiro District have received entrepreneurial skills under University of Rwanda’s University-Community interaction outreach programme.
The Wednesday training was organised by the University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics (CBE), at Gikondo campus in Kicukiro District.
The workshop attracted UR staff, Kicukiro District officials, community members, and students from entrepreneurship clubs at all colleges of the University of Rwanda.
Moses Tumusiime, the director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development at the University of Rwanda, said the training lasted two weeks.
“If the government says it will create 200,000 off-farm jobs per year, it will not create them without the intervention of the community. That is the reason why we sensitise people on self-employment,” he said.
University-Community interaction started last year with training of more than 50 small business start-ups.
It will be conducted annually with the focus of changing the mindsets of people about job creation.
Tumusiime explained that the drive is geared at equipping many Rwandans with skills to create their own jobs instead of waiting for employment.
There is a misconception that job creation needs a degree, he said.
‘‘Students are currently given practical works at the University.’’
In past years, they learnt only theory and would go out without the ability to contribute to the labour market, Tumusiime added.
“Dirty hands are making money. Jobs are not in offices only. Graduates would wish to work only in existing institutions but jobs can be personally created.”
Prof. Philip Cotton, the UR vice chancellor, said University graduates should make relevant contribution to the community.
“Students should give back to the community. To be a good entrepreneur is to think about other people. We want students to change their mindsets about employment and come up with creative ideas. Graduates should be able to share their skills with the community surrounding them,” Cotton said.
“We provide employment to the local community. We have to interact with the community. The University of Rwanda should serve the community, help solve problems, among other activities, particularly business related activities. We train students practical skills that impact people’s welfare.”
The University of Rwanda has been involved with setting up entrepreneurship clubs in all its affiliate institutions, encouraging saving among students, training students and the community in entrepreneurship, and skills promotion through internships.
Zawadi Kaliza, a Senior Four student at G.S Saint Vincent Pallotti in Kicukiro, said she was inspired by testimonies of young entrepreneurs from the College of Business and Economics who mentored them.
“I would like to start a business but was hindered by the thought that I needed huge capital (money). But, during the training, they showed us that the first capital is ideas. I have been inspired and want to improve my skills on soap making. I want to be a role model so that my friends could learn from me,” Zawadi said.
Marie Claire Uwamariya, who attended last year’s training, said she has used the skills to practice banana farming.
“I planted 1500 banana suckers and my target is to increase them up to 3000. My target it to make a juice processing plant,” she said.