Solving the Youth Employment Equation in Rwanda

The University of Rwanda (UR) hosts one of the eight programs affiliated with the Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI). “Solve the Equation East Africa (SEE)” is a collaborative project conducted at four universities located within East Africa. Aside from the lead institution in UR’s Nyagatare campus, the network also includes Makerere University (Uganda), University of Nairobi (Kenya), and Muhimbiri University (Tanzania).

The universities collaborate in responding to a regional economic crisis that has led to a rate of 46% of the population living below the poverty level, and 61% of people living on less than two dollars per day. In East Africa, unemployment is especially acute among the young, many of whom fail to enter the workforce and are thus affected by a vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion.

The overall goal of SEE is to increase graduate employment throughout the region through innovative educational solutions. SEE will develop new final-year curriculum and in-service short courses meant to prepare students to enter the workforce. In addition, a demonstration business incubation center will be established at each SEE partner university. Here, students will learn business skills through direct experience on applied case studies. Lastly, the SEE program will support successful business ideas to their full commercialization.

SEE’s origins are connected to a Dutch-funded project named Spark-Up, which has trained over 600 students in entrepreneurship, and helped develop over 20 business startups. Building off this successful endeavor, SEE seeks to take the model from Rwanda to neighboring countries.

Through the YEPI support, SEE expects to train over 500 students per country annually. Over the course of three years, more than 6,000 students will receive entrepreneurship and business skills training through their participation in SEE.