Reported by Irechukwu Nkechi, Director CGE KIM University
“This center is not like any ordinary centre of excellence in an academic institution. It constitutes a watershed in KIM University’s mission and serves as a point of convergence between the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to gender-based and gender-driven socio-economic transformation”—Prof. Opio, VC KIM University
In a bid to nurture creativity and innovation among its student, KIM University launched the Centre for Gender and Entrepreneurship at its main Campus in Kigali on Thursday June 15, 2017. Notable people from all works of life were in attendance to support the Centre. The Launching of the Centre attracted the presence of the representatives from the UN Women, Rwanda, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotions (MIGEPROF) represented by the Director of Gender Equality & Women Empowerment, Mr. Murangira John Bosco, the Registrar General of RDB, Mrs. Louise Kanyonga, Mrs Uwera Dorothy, Head of Entrepreneurship & Collective Investments of PSF, Mr. John Kagarama of BDF and Mr. Clayton Ferrara of Idea Forus, USA.
In his welcome speech, the Vice-Chancellor, KIM University Prof Opio, emphasized that the Center is not a mere research center of excellence. “It constitutes a watershed in KIM University’s mission and serves as a point of convergence between the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to gender-based and gender-driven socio-economic transformation”. It is will serve as “an incubator for creativity”.
The UN Women Representative, Ms. Fatou Aminata Lo, the Chief Guest of Honour in her speech congratulated the KIM University for taking an active role in women empowerment through creating a platform for girls to become conscious of and to develop entrepreneurship skills that would allow them to make a major contribution to the development of the country. She encouraged KIM University Students to believe in themselves, study hard, study smart,envision themselves and come up with new products and innovative business ideas that will add stories to the History of Rwanda, Africa and the world.link
The MIGEPROF Director during the inaugural ‘tree planting’ for the Centre encouraged the students to take up the opportunity availed to them by the University to transform their lives and the country economic activities. He ended his speech with a parable that says “you can take a horse to the river, but, you cannot force the horse to drink water”.
Ms. Uwera Dorothy of the Entrepreneurship Department, PSF, encouraged the students to generate business and project ideas that develop made in Rwandan products.
The Registrar General of RDB, Mrs. Louise Kanyonga guided the young entrepreneurs on registration of their business, while Mr. John Kagarama of BDF encouraged them to submit their business plans and visit him for grant counseling.
Mrs. Nkechi Eugenia Irechukwu, the Director, Centre for Gender & Entrepreneurship, said: “Our young ones, especially the females are not only expected to be sources of competitive advantage, but also achievers of competitive advantage”.In developing countries, entrepreneurs are very critical for creating employment, wealth and dynamic innovations. They make up a large share of economic, political and social activities. According to the Global Gender Gap Report, Rwanda has recently been ranked the Best Place to be a Woman in Africa and 6th overall in the world in terms of closing gender gaps. Rwanda is one of the most encouraging and supportive places to be a woman entrepreneur in Africa. Rwanda is highly progressive in seeing entrepreneurship as a key driver for transformation, economic development and business growth in the country, especially for women.
The fact remains that as the number of graduates who complete their bachelor education every year in Rwanda increases, youth unemployment rapidly increases. Young people seem to face difficulties finding employment. 4thRPHC_Youth (2012) says that Unemployment is highest among young women living in urban areas and mostly, among young university-educated women.
Most universities in Rwanda including KIM University offer entrepreneurship development as a module, but, the KIM University Centre for Gender and Entrepreneurship is interested in going beyond the traditional lectures which is a fundamental process by seizing the supportive opportunities in Rwanda to develop entrepreneurial culture among the young Rwandans in general and the young women in particular. It is inevitable that the young people integrate the traditional knowledge gained in financial management, business management, business innovation, e-commerce, procurement, etc., into practical exploitation and application by being resilience in creating and doing business without waiting for employment endlessly.
“I have personally witnessed the activities undertaken by the students in this centre and I know that this is promising and will be accomplished if supported. Our young ones, especially the females are fragile in nature. As we try to inculcate the prudent risk-taking spirit that will enable them overcome fear and apathy towards running own business, they still need our support and encouragement” the VC, Prof Opio noted.
“We therefore solicit support in terms of mentorship, financial grants and aids from the Institutions and Organizations represented in this Launch. We want to partner with you in order to help these students achieve the exploitation and practical application of their business/project ideas. We all know that the achievement of their business/project ideas will lead to employment and wealth creation, business innovations and economic boost in the nation”.
Moreover, partnering with your organizations will help the Centre of Gender and Entrepreneurship achieves its objectives, thereby helping to achieve Rwanda’s vision 2020 to transform the economy into that of a middle income country, supported by a knowledge-based society, with high levels of savings and private investment and lower external aid, increased per capita GDP in an equitable way and reduce the number of poor people since the students will not confine themselves in KIM University and Kigali only, but, they are expected to replicate their achievements in the rural areas for rural development.