The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda and Norrsken have signed a one-year agreement to empower youth-led SMEs in Rwanda for the Youth to benefit from business mentorship services.
The programme is part of the Euro 8 million funding agreement signed with the European Union (EU) in May 2022 to expand the socio-economic opportunities for Youth.
The agreement with Norrsken and the one previously signed with Tony Elumelu Foundation, funded by the EU, will contribute to entrepreneurship development as a driver of innovation, growth, and job creation.
It will further empower young people through an intensive programme involving entrepreneurship capacity building, financial start-up support, and one-on-one business mentorship.
Mr. Maxwell Gomera, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Rwanda, outlined the importance of young people in shaping Rwanda’s development journey.
“This partnership with the private sector will directly benefit the young men and women of Rwanda through the development and expansion of their businesses,” he said.
“I do not doubt that these businesses, led by a new generation of entrepreneurs, will contribute significantly to job-creation and livelihoods opportunities for more youth. UNDP is committed to positioning young people at the heart of Rwanda’s development journey. We will continue to empower young men and women to reach their fullest potential alongside our valued partners.”
Ms. Belén Calvo Uyarra, Ambassador of the European Union to Rwanda, underscored the need to accelerate youth employability and entrepreneurship for business and decent jobs in Rwanda.
“This agreement will boost the growth of innovative start-ups at Norrsken House Kigali, which aims to become Africa’s largest hub for entrepreneurs,” she said.
“A total of 520 entrepreneurs will be sponsored by the EU grant to have a fully-fledged workspace and access to the entrepreneurship community at Norrsken. Our cooperation will address post-incubation gaps, such as a lack of technical, management, and financial support for innovative start-ups. The European Union will continue working with the Rwandan tech entrepreneurs’ ecosystem to respond effectively to emerging high expectations.”
Through the partnership, UNDP, the Ministry of Youth and Culture, and the Ministry of ICT will povide access to Norrsken facilities, including high-speed connectivity to 100 young Rwandan entrepreneurs (beneficiaries of YouthConnekt and Hanga Pitchfest), of whom about 50% are women.
It will also provide visibility to the beneficiaries through online presence and connection with media and youth-led SMEs and start-ups with the following capacity building/coaching in Business Modeling and leadership development.
Additionally, they will be given skills in Business planning, product development and Value Chain Management and Resource management, understanding of target market, marketing management, marketing strategy, and product branding, access to market and finance, online presence, storytelling.
Rwandan youth (aged 16-30) comprise approximately one-third of the country’s population. While the youth remain key to the country’s transformational growth, they still face several challenges, including high levels of poverty, with 29.5% living in households below the poverty line, high unemployment (15.7%), and underemployment levels, as well as low levels of entrepreneurship and skills shortages.
Youth unemployment remains a persistent development challenge, with UNDP and partners positioning job creation fuelled by entrepreneurship – particularly youth-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – as a priority development solution.
UNDP, and partners like the European Union, consider entrepreneurship-driven job creation, particularly youth-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a solution to youth challenges.