“In 2016, my greatest headache was providing for my family; ensuring my child had food to eat, clothes to wear and planning for his education in the next few years. Parenting seemed hard as I didn’t have a constant income, and there were no prospects in sight. To sustain our needs, my wife and I would work as casual labourers on people’s farms which was strenuous and non-rewarding. I tirelessly looked for other jobs, but because of my level of education, I was unsuccessful. I am a high school dropout who only reached level three and employers were only keen on hiring skilled professionals to work with them,” narrates 31-year-old Jean Itangishaka who lives in Nyahibu District in Rwanda. Jean was approached by a friend who owned a carpentry shop in his village. “He visited me and shared the opportunity that had arisen. A fully catered for carpentry training session that would run for a year and all I was required to do to be considered was apply . The chips fell in my favour. I was accepted for the one-year apprenticeship, and my carpenter friend would be my trainer.”
When the apprentices concluded the carpentry training, Swisscontact organized a further training in entrepreneurship for all the beneficiaries in the district.
“We were taught how to work with financial institutions, how to start and manage businesses and be successful entrepreneurs,” reflects Jean.
Jean continued to work for his former trainer and friend but had a vision he was itching to actualize. He wanted to run his own workshop as he had noted the amount of money his trainer was making. He craved for independence and began saving his pennies towards the cause. Soon, it was time for him to take a leap. He was fortunate to own a cow. He sold the cow. Together with his savings and a loan of CHF 345 which he received from a microfinance institution, Jean rented out a suitable workspace and bought two machines.
“2019 marks my second year as a self-employed carpenter. Today, providing for my family is no longer taxing. They have a balanced meal often, and this does not interfere with the operations of my business. I can afford to pay back my loan of CHF 18 each month and even save CHF 1 daily with my mavuno saving group. I have also started training others.”
Jean intends to clear his loan in 2020 and take another to buy a wood smoothing machine and expand his business. “My clients like doing business with me because I deliver quality and within the agreed time frame. I plan to perfect this so that they are always happy and help me grow my business through referrals. I like that the project has a post-training follow-up strategy that ensures all trainees make something meaningful out of the training sessions they have attended,” the now father of three comments.
Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training in the Great Lakes Region
PROMOST (Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training) in the Great Lakes Region is currently in its eighth year of operations. It is about to round up the third phase of the 12-year SDC programme that aims to support the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to improve access to, as well as the quality and relevance of, its TVET system. The project has a regional dimension and has extended its activities to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. PROMOST is financed by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) and implemented by Swisscontact.