Since 2017 the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation is fostering cooperations in Rwanda and currently supports the implementation of four projects. One of these is the execution of the ‘School Enterprise Challenge’ in Rwanda, which encourages young people to run their own businesses.
The ‘School Enterprise Challenge’ is implemented nationwide in Rwanda by the British organisation ‘Teach A Man To Fish’. This organisation has been founded as an sister organization of ‘Fundación Paraguaya’. The common goal of the two organisations is the abatement of poverty through long-lasting and sustainable education with the mission to support the young people on their path to develop their full potential. Their educational approach fosters an entrepreneurial spirit in students and aim to give disadvantaged students a new perspective.
Students businesses refinance education
‘Giving young people the skills to succeed in work and life’ is the goal of the organisation and is implemented in the program of the School Enterprise Challenge. This international competition can be described as an awards program for businesses ran by students. It encourages young students to participate with a business developed and implemented by them. The main driver behind this concept is that that students learn to build up a business and in turn earn soft skills to better prepare them for the world of work and to use the profits of these business to reinvest in the schools and educational programs. The programs aim: to transform young people from around the world from job seekers to job creators.
Over the last years this program has been successfully applied in countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The next step is to put this program into action in Rwanda, a country with an youth unemployment rate of over 70 percent. (UNDP 2014). One of the main causes of this problem is the lack of trained labor force. The access to education in Rwanda has improved greatly over the last years, 95 percent of the population receive elementary education. However, the access to high quality and secondary education remains a challenge. Rwandas Secretary of Education Vincent Biruta comments on the situation in Rwanda during the World Education Forum of the UNESCO in 2014 as follows:
„(Our) Students may be able to answer the exam questions but they need to be able to have skills to go out and find a job”
Entrepreneurship as a school subject
The first necessary step to approach this problem has been to include entrepreneurship as a core subject in the education program of secondary education. However, the implementation in practice is facing several obstacles. Many of the teachers are not trained sufficiently to convey the focused competencies to the students.
One approach to solving this problem is the School Enterprise Challenge. During the three-year program cycle, the teachers receive the necessary training to accompany the students’ teams in developing and implementing their own business ideas. A total of 68 schools, 36 of which receive financial support from the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation, receive the necessary funds to train the teachers and to supervise the students. Important information multipliers from the education sector are also trained and sensitised to the topic. The practical experience gives students the skills they need to set up their own business after graduation.
The first steps have been taken at several schools in Rwanda, with the first student businesses in the pipelines. A domestic economics course was the starting point at one of the schools for the first business idea. The produced bakery goods from the course were sold at a profitable price. This idea achieved promising results and the first goods were sold immediately. The students used the first profit to invest in the start-up of their business. In the future the income will be used to provide outstanding students with scholarships. This will allow them to visit a continuing educational institution.
Through the cooperation of Teach A Man To Fish and the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation 16 schools have participated in the program in 2017. It allows the outstanding opportunity for schools to generate additional income and gives students the possibility to receive an realistic impression on business management.