Rwanda’s goal of building a technology-driven economy depends on the availability of a young, literate, and entrepreneurial workforce. But demand is currently outpacing supply as too many young people—especially in rural areas of the country—lack the needed skills.
EDC is boosting work readiness and entrepreneurship in Rwanda through the USAID-funded Akazi Kanoze Youth Livelihoods Project. The project’s work readiness training includes topics such as personal development, communication, work habits, leadership, and financial and market literacy. Rwanda’s Ministry of Education is currently working to integrate Akazi Kanoze into all secondary and technical vocational education and training schools throughout the country.
Akazi Kanoze attracts a wide range of participants, from young people who dropped out of school at the primary level to university graduates unable to find work in their communities. The project’s activities have included the following:
- Providing Rwandan out-of-school youth with market-relevant life and work readiness training and support, hands-on training opportunities, and links into the employment and self-employment job market
- Helping youth who have successfully completed the work readiness curriculum launch their own income-generating activities
- Working with the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and the government in a systemic approach to youth development
- Supporting the creation of Akazi Kanoze Access, a local NGO started by Akazi Kanoze staff to support youth workforce development
- Since 2009, Akazi Kanoze trainings have prepared more than 19,000 youth for work.
- More than 2,400 new businesses in sectors ranging from agro-processing to computer repair have been launched.
- More than 50 percent of enrolled youth are employed six months after graduation, either running their own business or working at a Rwandan company.
- An evaluation of rural Akazi Kanoze program participants found that they were more likely to be employed after graduation and to have achieved significant gains in work readiness skills development and financial management than those who had not taken part in the project.