Local potato wine making venture scoops YouthConnekt award

Young people have been urged to embrace entrepreneurship as one of the ways to create jobs for fellow young people and also contribute to national development.
Furaha (left) is joined by other officials to hand over the prize money dummy cheque to Ntezimana after the competition in Musanze last week. (Photos by Michel Nkurunziza)
Furaha (left) is joined by other officials to hand over the prize money dummy cheque to Ntezimana after the competition in Musanze last week. (Photos by Michel Nkurunziza)

Young people have been urged to embrace entrepreneurship as one of the ways to create jobs for fellow young people and also contribute to national development.

William Furaha, the Single Project Implementation Unit Manager at the Ministry of Youth, said it is important for youth to implement their business ideas using little resources at their disposal. Furaha was speaking during the YouthConnekt 2017 Awards for Northern Province on Friday.

Jean Paul Ntezimana, a 26-year-old innovator won the cash prize of Rwf1 million in the YouthConnekt Awards 2017 for Northern Province.

Ntezimana is the proprietor of Iyiwacu Wine Limited that produces wine, bio-ethanol, doughnuts and biscuits from sweat potatoes.

He beat Abdullah Mugwaneza, who developed an application that links milk collection centres and farmers with Cooperative Intego Cyuve, which produces potato seeds using technology in Northern Province.

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Wine and other food products processed from Sweat potatoes .

Furaha said: “The only difference between the contestants and other youth is that they implemented their ideas through these start-ups. That’s the approach everyone with a business idea should embrace,” he said. The official also cautioned youth against drug abuse and risky lifestyles, saying they cannot achieve their goals and dreams if they are not healthy.

The awards are part of preparations ahead of the National YouthConnekt Convention to be held in December. It will be attended by young innovators from across the country.

YouthConnekt Convention is an annual event that gathers the youth from all districts of Rwanda not only to discuss about their development but also to showcase their achievements.

Timely shot in the arm

Ntezimana, a graduate of agriculture and food processing from Musanze Polytechnic, said he will use the cash prize to buy equipment for his plant to increase production.

“I am happy that government is recognising and supporting the efforts of Rwandan youth to help them to develop and improve themselves. This (cash prize) is motivation for me to work harder and improve my production processes as well as output and quality,” he said.

Ntezimana said he has been using Musanze Polytechnic workshop where the business went through a six-month incubation period.

During this period he has been able to buy some equipment. The innovative entrepreneur participated in different competitions for young innovators, including those organised by DOT Rwanda, Business Development Fund (BDF) and districts.

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William Furaha urges youth to work hard.

More about the awards

The YouthConnekt Awards were organised by the Ministry of Youth and the National Youth Council with sponsorship of partners, including United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA), among others. He was one of the exhibitors that won prizes at the AgriShow 2017. The YouthConnekt Awards competition has for the last five years offered opportunities to young innovators to improve and expand their start-ups and hence create new jobs for other young Rwandans.

YouthConnekt exhibition

Meanwhile, this year’s YouthConnekt exhibition is slated for December 17-19 at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali. The event is organised by the Ministry of Youth and the National Youth Council.

According to a statement by Robert Mwesigwa, the executive secretary of the National Youth Council, the exhibition will showcase the role of young people in the nation building process through entrepreneurship.

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Wine packaged in bottles.

It will attract young entrepreneurs, cooperatives, companies and innovators who will exhibit their products and services. More than 3,000 showgoers particularly youth are expected to visit the three-day YouthConnekt expo.

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