Over 34 young men and women on Saturday graduated from Shair Hairdressing Academy, an initiative of the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) in partnership with Shair, a UK based organisation that supports hair academies in Africa.
For a whole year, this pioneer class acquired skills in hairdressing, straightening, hair washing, hair food and other skills women need for their hair beauty. This graduation was good news to the government, hair beauty practitioners and professionals.
“The vast hair beauty market has been lacking local professionals. It is a market dominated by foreign workers yet we have many unemployed youth. We expect these graduates to teach their peers service delivery and customer care skills,” said Jerome Gasana, the WDA director general at the graduation that took place at WDA, Remera.
All around the City of Kigali, and other towns, it is believed that famous hairdressing professionals come from neighbouring countries, especially the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There is a handful of Rwandans in this industry, yet the beauty salon owners commend the few local practitioners for discipline, quality service and loyalty.
Beatrice Uwizeyumukiza, the owner of Marine beauty salon, located in Kimironko, has been eagerly waiting for the graduation of this class to beef up her workforce. She had received three of them for internship and believes that hiring three men and two women among the new graduates will improve her business.
She said: “Of the nine employees working in my salon, there is one local practitioner, with many people running after him for hair beauty services. He has been there for five months only but he convinced me that Rwandans can also make it in this industry,” she said.
A lucrative business
Society seems to neglect hair beauty service with a wrong perception that people embrace it for lack of options. However, this is a lucrative business where both the employer and the employee can earn big.
Romeo Didier, a resident of Kigali, had invested in carpentry, but switched to salon business after learning that one of his friends was reaping big.
“I have a friend earning Rwf 1 million per month from hair beauty service. It is an eye opener,” he said.
Uwizeyumukiza explains that employees help her make Rwf 1 million a month. She also earns Rwf 100,000 from another room she rents out to other salonists.
“I know with local workers, my income will double. I have been lacking serious workforce,” Uwizeyumukiza said.
Uwizeyumukiza has used proceeds from her salon business to buy two hactares of banana plantations in Jabana, Gasabo District, and has a piggery with 40 pigs.
Nigel McCarthy, the chairperson of Shair, said the students acquired competitive skills which can enable them work anywhere.
Shair has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the hair academy in Rwanda until 2016.
They support the school with equipment and teachers valued at an approximate USD 250,000. Students who study for free are chosen by local leaders and hair beauty salon owners.
They are selected among the needy youth.
Albert Nsengiyumva, the State Minister for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), said government is determined to increase the number of graduates with technical skills.
The country wants to reduce unemployment by chunning out job creators and TVET has proven to be one of best options to achieve this target.