The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, has urged Rwanda youth to handle finances responsibly so as to develop a healthy relationship with money and ensure frugal utilization of scarce resources.
Mrs Kagame said this while launching the 21st edition of the Imbuto Foundation Youth Forum Series held at Gabiro military barracks in Gatsibo district yesterday.
This year’s theme ‘Financial Fitness’ was coined to nurture youth into being responsible agents of financial responsibility.
“We are here to learn and share how to shape a secure financial future,” said Mrs Kagame, the patron of Imbuto foundation – the lead event organizer.
At least 250 young professionals aged 25-35; including civil servants, entrepreneurs and employees of private sector companies, non-profit and youth-led organisations, attended the event.
The forum featured a number of prominent speakers including; James Gatera the chief executive officer Bank of Kigali, Aly Khan Satchu, Proprietor of Rich Management, Vincent Munyeshyaka and Sam Mulindwa, permanent secretaries in the ministries of Local Government, and Public Service respectively.
“Investing in the youth is at the heart of our mission at Imbuto. We find it important to accompany young people on this journey, by helping to instill important Rwandan values; nurture a positive can-do attitude; and encourage you to communicate with confidence,” the First Lady said.
Rwanda will this year celebrate the 20 liberation anniversary. This year’s youth event is among the activities being held ahead of the July 4th D-day. It is the first time the event is being held at a military facility.
“Being at Gabiro, reminds us of the liberators, most of them your age or younger, that freed our country from a destructive leadership, 20 years ago. “Mrs Kagame said.
“Although resources were scarce, the struggle to liberate the country was successful. They did it because they effectively managed the little they had. Let us draw lessons from our respected armed forces,” the First Lady added.
According to the Central Bank, financial literacy is one of the challenges Rwanda faces. This has since inspired organizations to design programmes aimed at education the Rwandan people about financial matters.
The First Lady emphasized that the importance of spending time to learn how financial systems work examine the trends with respect to savings, spending and investment.
“It is also important to increase awareness of available opportunities for investments; and equip ourselves with the tools to make more responsible financial choices,” Mrs Kagame said.
Among the areas covered during the sessions was looking at the Rwandan culture Vis-à-vis optimal management of resources and how to be better investors consumers and producers.
The First Lady tipped the youth on being abreast with what’s going on in the country and looking at the opportunities that lie within. She cited the example of the Rwf 1.75 trillion national budged that was presented in Parliament.
“Our government is focusing on energy, how can you as a young professional benefit, while helping to solve a key national challenge?” Mrs Kagame challenged them.
The First Lady spoke about some of the cultural hindrances to that limit financial literacy.
“We tend to ‘protect’ children from coming into contact with money; some incorrectly believe that children will turn into thieves if they are exposed to money too early,” she said.
“The truth is that financial responsibility begins at childhood. We have some financial institutions that offer child friendly ways to teach children to have a healthy relationship with money, once he or she becomes an adult.”
The youth also spoke about situations they experience in life that may influence how money is managed. Issues such as placing high expectations on family and friends to finance lavish weddings or costly funerals, the pressure to pay for distant relatives’ basic needs and the discomfort of showing one’s real wealth, for fear that you will be expected to shoulder a heavy financial burden.
The First Lady advised the youth to have confidence in who they are and appreciate the people that they are.
“I often wonder who sets the standards of how we should dress, what car we should drive and the places we should be seen frequenting, If we focus on competing to drive the most expensive car, or buy the most expensive outfits, we may be too exhausted to work on the more meaningful things in our lives,” Mrs Kagame said.
The First Lady added: “What is most important is to embrace and accept who you are. Being true to yourself should be one of the guiding principles, in making choices, be it in finances or in any other area.”