On February 2017, forty seven African youth attended the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Summit (YAW2017) in Kigali, Rwanda. Fourteen of those youth delegates were selected to receive 12 months of mentoring from senior delegates attending the Summit.
Over the last three months, these youth mentees have started forming relationships with their mentors who will support and challenge them during this year to take their next steps in their lives and careers. We’ve asked the mentees to reflect on what they have learned since the Young Africa Work’s Summit.
I am Annet Mukamurenzi a Rwandan Mastercard Scholar born in Uganda and grew up in Rwanda.
I started my bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science at EARTH University
in Costa Rica in 2013 and look forward to graduating by December2017. Concurrently, I am also studying a master’s program in Innovation in agribusiness at the same institution.
I believe leadership is about serving others. I am passionate about women economic empowerment and youth empowerment by equipping them with entrepreneurial and agricultural skills. Through my passion, I have been able to implement a number of initiatives such as Founding Rwanda Initiative for Agricultural Transformation (RYIAT) that consists of fifteen youths and co-founded a small money makes wonders initiative made up of ten students from different countries. I have served as a general and financial manager for three years at JUSE S.A a business group composed of six students from different countries at the EARTH University.
One of the best things that happened to me this year was attending at YAW Summit 2017; the conference focused on inclusion of youth in agricultural sector at the continent which served in networking on career guidance and job creation. Aside from been trained at YAW on how to make good use of my network, I also met new people at the summit. Two relevant people I met are; Samuel Muhirwa director at BUFCOFFEE Ltd and Birasa Patrick Country Lead and advisor at ICCO COOPERATION
, these are experienced individuals I can learn from and potential companies for future job prospects.
Another huge opportunity I gained from the YAW summit was, meeting inspiring youth who are already successful in the agribusiness sector and more those from my country such as the owners of Nzeyimana Jean Bosco Habona limited and Twahirwa Dieu Donne at Gashora farms. This made me strongly believe that I can also make it since they are mentoring me as well as sharing their knowledge and experience with me. Also, I now have a clearer understanding of how to pitch my project and create more impact through collaborating with other youth on RYIAT. Apparently, as a result of YAW, I am coordinating YPARD Costa Rica and we are organizing a conference which will create a platform for the youth from different institutions and experts around Costa Rica to share their experiences, pitch potential projects and network.
Narrowing my vision
The mentorship program offered me the opportunity to dream big and understand the dynamics of implementing my dreams. Before, YAW mentorship I just wished to work with UN or any other big development agency I thought people there just travel a lot, but now I understand the huge task involved in designing and implementing development programs and policies. I believe my passions, skills and knowledge gained over time will better position me for some development agencies in the nearest future. RYIAT is a social entrepreneurship scheme that aims at improving rural farmers and youth skills that transforms subsistence farming into market oriented production and improves natural resource use awareness. This will be achieved through establishing a model sustainable farm which will serve as a practical learning centre for youth and farmers.
Setting smart goals
Goals are like wheels that direct one to his or her destiny. My mentor – Violette - taught me that dreams without goals remain an idea. Setting goals and strategies to achieve them makes the dream come true. For instance in order to work with UN, there are many things I have to do to be qualified, such as; graduating with good grades, identifying the agency in UN that fits my interests and knowing their requirements, Interning with UN, Implementing RYIAT and many other things that are in line with who I want to be and what I want to do in future.
Mapping my vision
I have a direction now, my achievements so far in the dairy farm is a result of an intense training with Violette who is my mentor, the mentorship program was mentee centered where my ideas served as the spring board for the whole learning process.
The little time, I was always assigned to work on a shared document; she was able to assist me in charting the required road map and steps attaining each goal I set.
That has trained me to have a clear purpose and I am able to evaluate how fast or slow I am moving towards my vision. By now I have determined the UN agency I need to work with and their requirements such as doing my graduation project well, doing well in my course of study to get good grades and applying in different competitions.
At RYIAT, we are submitting some of our projects to one of our partners and also securing strong partnership with RYIAF which is a youth forum that supports Rwandan young entrepreneurs. In conclusion, knowing clearly my vision has helped me to set priorities, to know my strength or advantages and weaknesses that I need to work on.
I am always humbled by the way my mentor trains me from the very basic way in order to come out with better results. Her patience, commitment and consistence makes me feel that my dreams are real and can be achieved if I stay focused. The most interesting thing is that most of the time my ideas are the ones we start with and that gives me a sense of ownership. I am indeed grateful to YPARD for providing the platform to learn and to my mentor Violette for being such a great teacher.