Rwandan Students Build Confidence and Resilience Through Business Ownership
“The best skill we get is self-confidence... Now even if our project fails, we can try again.”
- Fausta, Secondary Student, Rwanda
Rwandan secondary student Fausta has a set of advice for other Rwandan youth: “Don’t give up. Have self-confidence and try to discover your talents. Don’t think that there is not a solution or that there is anything you can’t do.” She pauses for a moment to consider before adding, “And learn from failure.”
Having launched a small business while still in high school, other youth would be wise to take notes from Fausta and her business partner, Emelyne. The two serve as the President and Vice President of the Student Business Club at their school, balancing their leadership positions with their budding jewelry-making business. Still only teenagers, they are already confident young women with a strong sense of direction and big dreams for their futures.
Key aspects of Educate!’s model, like Student Business Clubs, were incorporated into Rwanda’s national curriculum as part of the entrepreneurship curriculum reform. Today, this curriculum has been rolled out nationwide, helping to prepare nearly 210,000 youth each year with the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy.
For Fausta and Emelyne, launching their small business has provided the opportunity to practice essential hard and soft skills that will better prepare them for success after graduation. These skills, the girls say, have helped them build their self-confidence, while expanding their view of what’s possible. The girls used knowledge gained from their entrepreneurship classes to develop their business idea and conducted market research to learn that many of their peers often purchase jewelry. They launched a project making bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, initially selling to their friends at school and in the neighborhood. They’ve kept meticulous financial records, honed their marketing skills, and confidently pitched their products to potential buyers. With the profits they earn, the girls help their parents pay for their school fees, and Fausta plans to use her earnings to send herself to university to study electrical engineering.
While their project is still small, they see a path to growth, and they recognize that the most important thing they are gaining from the project is experience. When asked to choose one key skill she’s acquired, Fausta replied: “The best skill we get is self-confidence.” In learning to pitch and market their product, the girls have learned how to advocate for themselves and their work. This new confidence has also created a feeling of resilience: “Now, even if our project fails, we can try again.”
With everything they’ve already accomplished, it’s clear that Fausta and Emelyne’s futures are full of potential. Emelyne says, “I want to develop my country through my achievement…. By making my products and being a job creator, I will develop my country.”