Young Entrepreneurs Use Social Media To Tell Their Stories

three women in Rwanda, one woman holding a cell phone Entrepreneurship is alive and strong in Africa and social networks are helping leaders to expand their reach. Online networking guru, Beth Kanter, recently visited Rwanda to teach social media and networking skills at a women's leadership training. She met two young entrepreneurs who knew the value of a social network and wanted to tell their story on her blog. We love stories that show the power of African entrepreneurism that we know so well, so we wanted to share this one here too.

Generation Rwanda: Two Stories

 

As part of the ACE Leadership Training, we had several site visits to bring some of the real world into our discussions. The group visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The site was established in 2004 on the 10th Anniversary of the genocide in partnership with the Rwanda Government, Kigali City Council, and Aegis Trust, a charity in the UK dedicated to the prediction, prevention, and ultimately elimination of genocide. The site operates a Genocide Archive, a Museum, Education and Social programs, and a memorial garden and burial grounds.

The exhibition in the Museum has three main sections. The main exhibition tells the history of Rwanda leading up to the genocide, what happened, and the aftermath. It includes personal testimonies, photographs, and artifacts. Another exhibit looks at past massacres in Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, The Holocaust, and other places of the world where genocide has taken place. While the exhibit was emotionally wrenching, not to mention disturbing, the most poignant was the children’s memorial that tells the story of innocent child victims of the genocide.

Needless to say, one leaves this memorial site with a profound sense of sadness, horror, and grief. As our group was leaving the Museum,  I started talking with Favorite and Germaine, two young women who joined the training for the day. Both are on full scholarship at the Kigali Health Institute and are supported by a nonprofit called “Generation Rwanda” that helps orphans and other socially vulnerable people in Rwanda become leaders and foster economic development and social reconciliation.

one woman taking a cell phone video of a woman in a chairThese two young people both have personal stories to tell, having been about 5 years old at the time of the genocide and orphaned. They both are inspiring, hopeful, and determined to make the future of their country a better place. They wanted to share their stories on my blog and through video and photos. Here are their stories.

Germaine will graduate from the Kigali Health Institute with a degree in physical therapy.     She grew up in Kigali and lost her parents and four brothers and sisters in the genocide. (You can find her story on the Generation Rwanda site).

httpv://youtu.be/vBW0MF1nep4

She started a business to sell bags, skirts, and dresses for women. The business helps her to support her remaining siblings and provides money for her transportation, meals, and other school expenses. The women she hires to make the bags are widows with HIV and have no other way to generate income. The profits from the business help both Germaine and these other families. Germaine uses her Windows Phone as her virtual store.

httpv://youtu.be/CWi1gEyqBlA

Favorite is also a student at the Kigali Health Institute and will graduate this year. She was born in the south of Rwanda and the genocide started one month after she turned five years old. She lost both her father and members of her family to the genocide. Her mother, who died after the genocide, encouraged her to get an education at the University. She searched for scholarships and connected with Generation Rwanda where she received a scholarship. Her vision for the future of her country is young people. She wants to start a school program and center of excellence for young children and provide programs that help them stay physically and mentally in shape. She says, if a country’s young people are healthy,  this will build a country that is better for all – and wants to see a future free of genocide.

 

Read this story on Beth's Blog, where it was originally posted.