Deogratias Niyizonkiza received the IDEA Award at our Annual Celebration and Award Ceremony in March. Deo, as he likes to be called, is the founder and president of Village Health Works and a leading advocate for the most impoverished people in the world. His work honors and respects the dignity of those he works to help. Deo was honored as an inspiring leader who has used Entrepreneurship and Action to develop himself and the community in Burundi he loves so much.
Later this month, several of the IDEA4Africa team will be traveling to Kampala to teach a week-long Seminar in Uganda focusing on entrepreneurship and leadership skills. It will be our first Seminar held in Uganda where we will be working with a mixed group of high school students and residents of the refugee camps.
Elizabeth Nakato, our Ugandan Country Director, and Aris Ashigue, a Congolese resident of the camps who works alongside Elizabeth, and who speaks 4 languages, will take the lead in both how we organize the various participants in the seminar and how we might work around language barriers that are sure to exist. Our newest Board Member, Krissy McQuaid, will take the lead in teaching alongside myself and Amanda Schleicher, a friend of IDEA4Africa and a veteran teacher herself with degrees in math and education.
We’re sure there will be some situations we will struggle with but we will follow our own teaching and learn from our mistakes and change direction: the ACT – LEARN – BUILD model.
We’re looking forward to the challenges and the successes of the group! You’re sure to hear more from us upon our return!
Scaling Up Disruptive Solutions for Africa’s Transformation
Our Country Director, Pamela, spoke at the African Innovation Summit in June 2018 that took place in Kigali, Rwanda. Her session was “The Role of NGO’s and Civil Society in Innovation”.
The AIS is an Africa-wide, home-grown initiative aimed at harnessing the innovation potential of the continent. It aims to mobilize the people and, especially those with the ‘power to act’, including investors, the people with the ideas, the policy makers, the researchers and academics, the business community, the youth, as well as innovators and thinkers into a coalition for collective action to promote and build an enabling environment for innovation in Africa. The goal is to engage as many people as possible in order to build a broad constituency in support of innovation in Africa.
The basic fact is that Africa cannot outsource its development.
The AIS platform includes regular Summits to promote dialogue, facilitate exchange of best practices among stakeholders and African countries, showcase what is happening on the continent, and share lessons of experience. The platform also includes engaging with African researchers and scholars to undertake case studies to tease out lessons of experience in order to facilitate learning by stakeholders. The African Innovation Exhibit which is also part of the AIS provides a stage to showcase homegrown innovations and innovators on the continent, while the Hackathons will challenge the people to come up with solutions to specific problems. The exhibitions and hackathons will allow stakeholders to seek ways to scale up potential solutions.
The aims are to identify path breaking ideas and disruptive solutions to be developed and/scaled up in Africa as well as build a constituency to help address the fundamental challenges facing the continent.
Because of your donations during our fundraising event in April, we will be able to accommodate more than 100 students in our Seminar in Uganda. That means paying for their transportation to the workshops and their boarding costs, providing them with work materials and all their food for the week. Our Country Director and her staff will be joined by several board members and friends of IDEA4Africa who will be teaching the high school students and residents of the refugee camps using our From Ideas to Action curriculum.
Idea4Africa has been working with educators, high school students and young entrepreneurs through a variety of programs. Last week we ran a teacher training program, a one-day training program targeting high school entrepreneurship teachers working with schools within the Idea4Africa network. Educators are taken through an array of activities that include both practical and theoretical exercises arming them with the skills needed to inspire a new generation of young entrepreneurs in Rwanda.
Our Country Director, Pamela Munyana, noted that “the teacher training program is aimed at giving teachers, who have a day to day interaction with the youths, the necessary tools to pass on skills to students that will help them run their own businesses.”
The workshops consist of lectures and hands on practical entrepreneurial activities that can be replicated in schools. Trainees are given an opportunity to share their successes, experiences and techniques with each other.
“I think this program is of great benefit to both us teachers and students as it helps us learn the best practices of promoting the culture of risk-taking and entrepreneurship to our students,” said Faithful Abaho.
Last week’s program concluded with a panel discussion by representatives of Rwanda’s National Youth Council, Akillah institute and Africa Leadership University who encouraged the trainees on the importance of creating more job creators in the society.
“Young people should be taught that despite one’s background, entrepreneurship can create a level playing field for all as one can make the most out of the meager resources available to them,” said Stanley Mukasa from Akillah Institute.
At the end of the day, participants were given some of the Idea4Africa resources that will enable them to conduct productive and creative sessions with their students such as the teachers training manual and the Rwandan Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network toolkit (REEN).
IDEA4Africa honored three extraordinary students with the IDEA Award presented at the Annual Celebration.
Justus Uwayesu, Rosine Ndayishimiye and Jonathan Iyandemye earned this recognition by modeling the Entrepreneurship and Action mindset they learned in our Seminar (under the Babson Entrepreneurial and Leadership Academy) in 2011.
All 3 have already exemplified the very best in entrepreneurship by working to remedy problems they saw in their communities whether it be to provide education for all children regardless of their ability to pay, providing healthy foods for high school students or educating other students on computer skills. And these were the ventures they started while still in high school!
Where are they now?
Jonathan and Justus are graduating from Harvard University next month. Rosine will be graduating from Babson College in May.
As nearly 100 people gathered to honor these stellar Rwandan students and their amazing journeys, everyone left feeling that this world will be a more constructive and better place with them in it.
Country Director, Uganda
I met young man named Barack in the camp. He had been there for a while having fled violence in the Congo. He shares his story as matter of fact, with such humor and light heartiness that he somewhat throws you off. What he has been through is unbelievable. But what is most unbelievable about him is how he, and a group of many young people who attended our workshop, organized themselves to start a network of kindergartens to engage and educate the babies in the refugee camp. They currently run four of them. This year 500 children will go through their school.
I visited the children’s classes during breaks in my workshop. The most beautiful and innocent faces you ever saw. The young people that work at the kindergartens took turns. Some would stay to teach and attend to the the children while others came to our workshops. They do this in an environment where resources are scarce, for little to no pay from parents that are stretched for finances.
Barack and the young people are the true entrepreneurs. They on many different occasions expressed their gratitude for our workshops and how these workshops were helping them think of different ways to run those schools better given the constraints of the environment they are operating in.
You made this possible!
The more than $10K that we raised through the GlobalGiving platform will be dispersed in October. At that time, Elizabeth Nakato, our Country Director in Uganda will begin holding Workshops for the people in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement located in Southwest Uganda.
The refugee camp is huge piece of land stretching over 71 square miles, a six-hour drive west of the captial city of Kampala. There are more than 100,000 people in the camp coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan, as over the last 20 years, all the countries that border Uganda have had conflicts that sent people fleeing for sanctuary.
What is remarkable about the refugee camps in Uganda is their progressive attitudes and policies. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, has praised Uganda for their forward-thinking policies for the more than 500,000 people who live within their borders. What makes the Uganda model unique is the ability for refugees to work and contribute to the local economy. They are also in the minority in that they take in refugees immediately with limited questioning or suspicion.
Imagine for a moment having had to flee your home, your family and neighbors and your livelihood. Imagine what it would mean to be able to be a productive force in your new community after everything else has been taken away.
IDEA4Africa will start running workshops at the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in a few weeks, focusing on the From Ideas to Action curriculum that has inspired and empowered hundreds of others in Sub-Saharan African countries to become vital members of their communities. By teaching about innovative mindsets, we are empowering communities to break the cycle of poverty that exists in so many communities.
Elizabeth has reported that the need is overwhelming in the settlement community but that “their hunger for knowledge and hopeful spirit is nothing short of a miracle.”
What a wonderful success! With your help, we are thrilled to report that we raised more than $12K to be used to start new Entrepreneurship Clubs in Uganda. Our goal? To give this next generation the tools they need, both life skills and entrepreneurial skills, to create sustainable incomes for themselves, raising both their families and their communities from poverty.
In our expansion into Uganda, our new Country Director, Elizabeth Nakato, has already started partnering with vocational training and empowerment organizations, the refugee settlement community and high schools. GlobalGiving, who we partnered with for this crowdfunding campaign, will disperse the funds raised in October which will enable us to create 20 new clubs. All kinds of activities go into creating these clubs including the training of teachers and networking of the schools who are participating.
We are so grateful to all those who contributed to this campaign. And to those who became aware of what we do for the first time, we urge you to learn more about our work in Rwanda and Uganda. Empowering youths and their communities and enabling them to break the cycle of poverty is gratifying work. We hope you’ll join us.
Let’s spend a week this summer on the equator? The weather at 6000 feet in Rwanda is quite pleasant, 60’s at night and high 70’s, low 80’s during the day, with low humidity.
Early this month Dennis Hanno led teams from Wheaton College and Idea4Africa to teach 200 Rwandan high school students about entrepreneurship. Doubting Thomas that I am, I had to see for myself the power of the program he had developed while Provost and Executive Vice President at Babson College. He has been going to Africa every summer since 2000. That year he brought students at UMass in Amherst to Ghana and, in subsequent years, students at Babson and Wheaton to Tanzania and Rwanda. I knew him to be a gifted leader and innovative educator.
In order to convince others of the programs’ value I wanted to see it in action.
In early August, 200 Rwandan high school students coming from schools all over the country descended on the Byimana School of Sciences, about an hour’s bus ride from Kigali, for a 5-day course in entrepreneurship. Dennis was the lecturer and I was one of 24 Teaching Assistants. The TA’s were a remarkably diverse group including 6 Rwandans and talented FOD (friends of Dennis) from China, Mexico, India, Iran, Abu Dhabi, Wheaton College and all parts of the US.
The week sold me on the power and effect of the program. We each had 8 Rwandan students in our sections and helped them understand how they could examine their core values, consider Rwanda’s needs and problems, and find ways that small businesses might address those problems. They were charged with planning a business they might start and then pitch their idea to others who might help. What they also learned was how to look at themselves and how they might find ways to help their country develop.
How was it? Just about the most challenging and energizing week of my professional life.
I believe my work as a board member of Idea4Africa is a great way to contribute to improving the lives of others. Idea4Africa is exactly the cause I had been seeking since retiring from my day job!
Idea4Africa is expanding our geographic coverage to include Uganda, just having hired an alum of the program from Uganda, Elizabeth Nakato, to be the Country Director. We need your help to build staff to establish entrepreneurship clubs in both countries and eventually throughout East Africa. Your support will make a real difference! Foundations need to be convinced that the program has staying power before they will make a commitment.
Let’s do it together.
Mothers who mean business
Last month IDEA4Africa and Maranyunda Initiative held a joint event screening the film MAMA RWANDA directed by Laura Waters Hinson.
MAMA RWANDA examines a new generation of Rwandan women whose passion for entrepreneurship is transforming Rwanda into one of the world’s fastest growing economies. A tale of working mothers who endured genocide, Mama Rwanda is an intimate portrait of two women on journeys to build peace through prosperity creation.
The stories were Interspersed by commentary from Rwandan experts in women’s entrepreneurship, highlighting the role of education and access to capital in empowering women to overcome poverty through entrepreneurship. Having survived the genocide, these women are trading subsistence living for a life of business innovation, sparking enlightenment and controversy within their communities.
Immediately following the film, attendees watched short videos about IDEA4Africa and Maranyunda Initiative highlighting the communities we are working with to change the trajectory of young Rwandan lives.
Dennis Hanno, Founder and President of IDEA4Africa was joined by Isabelle Byusa, our first Country Director in Kigali, and Rosine Ndayishimiye, one of Dennis’ first star students in one of the Academies he ran in Rwanda for a panel discussion. The interactive talk focused on the need for early entrepreneurial education in the country in order to change people’s lives and impact the country.
Thank you to John Micalizzi of RSM, the audit, tax and consulting company, for sponsoring this event.
And thank you to David Bramante of the West Newton Cinema for accommodating our needs for the evening!