Access to financial services by the youth in terms of loans and grants has by far been a daunting challenge, largely on account of their lack of experience in running businesses.
In order to address the matter, Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), Rwanda, a subsidiary of DOT International, based in Canada, have taken to transforming the youth into leaders of change through training and facilitation of technology, business and entrepreneurial learning experiences.
It is being done through Youth Leading Change, a project funded by the MasterCard Foundation
At a workshop held last week, under the theme ‘Creating Global Networks of Talented, Energetic Young Leaders of Change,’ DOT Rwanda officials, through a research study on youth access to financial services, revealed how they can be helped to access funds.
The findings gave an insight on how to build a sustainable leverage between financial service providers and the youth of Rwanda.
Invariably, it would translate into closing the unemployment gap and thereby reducing instances of social instability.
DOT Rwanda also graduated 36 start-up youths that completed a seven-week intern online and face-to-face intern learning experience that prepared them to deliver DOT’s Start-Up programme in their communities. They will be deployed as facilitators and business coaches in 16 districts.
Financial service providers that have partnered with DOT Rwanda such as Business Development Fund (BDF) and Umutanguha Finance Company (UFC) attended.
The two have signed a tripartite agreement to facilitate access to finance for DOT beneficiaries. Under the deal, BDF will provide up to 75 percent collateral guarantee cover on principal loans that UFC offers to beneficiaries of DOT Rwanda’s Reach- Up and Start-Up programs.
DOT, through its financial literacy component will encourage beneficiaries to open up savings accounts with UFC, assist them to determine credit needs and prepare their credit applications albeit the technical assistance to help beneficiaries grow and manage their businesses through mentorship and coaching programs.
The strategic partnership will therefore initiate a national youth platform to address youth access to finance for both advocacy and awareness.
“The Youth Leading Change project will weave the private sector and market research with relevant skills development and financial services to accelerate participation of youth in Rwanda as they find jobs or start businesses,” said Violet Uwamutara, Managing Director of DOT Rwanda,.
“The project will actively engage 150 trainers to train and transition over 75,000 out-of-work and out-of-school Rwandan youth into employment, self-employment or further education,”.
Olivier Musafiri a graduate said: “Through the training, I have learnt practical business skills which have emboldened my understanding of business beyond just university classroom work”.
Also in attendance were representatives from Equity bank, Bank of Kigali and Agaseke bank.