June 27th 2021 is Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day and this year the focus is on supporting small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.
Over the past decade or so, Rwanda Action has supported more than 30 small enterprise groups to form co-operatives and establish businesses. The restrictions put in place in Rwanda to reduce the spread of COVID-19 had an immediate and devastating effect on many of them. Several months of no income quickly swallowed up savings and left them without the means to resurrect businesses once the lockdown eased. We are delighted to be working with the Swiss Development Cooperation on a project to establish and train new enterprise groups and we factored in some much needed support for existing groups .
Each enterprise group has at least ten members and each of them is part of a family, so the number of beneficiaries quickly grows. The stories of those individual members illustrate how the benefits of training, empowerment and independence go way beyond finance gains.
Jonas is Rwanda Action's Enterprise Development Manager and he is responsible for arranging training and support for groups and offering advice. He has got to know most of the members well and often has heart warming stories to share. He recently gave an update about a young welder called Samuel.
The island of Nkombo sits in Lake Kivu on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Poverty is widespread and there are very few opportunities for the youth, so despite its beautiful setting, it would be very easy to feel despondent growing up there. Rwanda Action supports about 80 students each year at the vocational training centre in one of five available courses, including welding. With limited employment opportunities, we encourage the graduates to consider forming co-operatives and looking for work.
We gave seed funding to one such group called Abishyizehamwe, and they were making good progress when lockdown stopped all movement on or off the island and their work dried up overnight. We decided that this group was worthy of some of the Swiss Development Cooperation funding and helped them to resurrect their business as soon as lockdown eased. Their high standard of workmanship in previous work earnt them a recommendation, which led to a contract to make metal doors and windows for a new building being constructed on the mainland.
The group's leader, Samuel, was delighted that this meant he could afford to do something he was planning before lockdown. He invited his parents to a small bar on the island where he bought them Fanta and some local bread. His purpose was to express his gratitude to his parents for their support and guidance and demonstrate that he is growing in confidence and becoming independent. Jonas told us what Samuel said; "they allowed me to become who I am proud to be today after growing, having welding training at Nkombo TVET and positive occupations". He told his parents how much he loves and respects them and they must have felt immensely proud.
We are able to tell stories about inspirational people like Samuel, who are eager to seize an opportunity and work hard, due to the generosity of our supporters and partners and for that we are very grateful. If you would like to change lives through a donation, please use the PayPal or Just Giving links, or send us an email.