This is one of NAR’s pillars that strengthen the social and economic agency of youth and the wider population so they can take an active role in development and the establishment of a just, inclusive, and peaceful society. The ‘Social Economic Empowerment’ project was a two-prong project – to empower young women in particular but to enable them to become more aware of their rights, so that they would not be subject to exploitation and manipulation and could land on their own feet economically.
Youth initiated Projects (YIP)
Never Again Rwanda’s Youth-Initiated Projects empowers youth as positive change-makers in their communities. Through YIP, NAR affiliated youth club and association members learn and use a step-by-step process for identifying, developing, and implementing a project that positively contributes to the community while building on their own leadership skills. In addition to receiving training and on-going technical support, NAR youth members could apply for project seed money to further empower them in carrying out youth-led projects.
Skills that NAR offered young people through training in project initiatives included:
- How to form an association
- How to elect a board and leaders democratically
- Book keeping and basic accountancy skills
NAR worked closely to enable young people to think through existing problems and community related issues, enabling them to problem solve and reflect on the challenges that they faced and that affected their social well-being. At the same time, NAR worked collaboratively with the local administrations to create a linkages between NAR affiliated youth clubs and association members, as part of the wider local officials responsibility of looking after the welfare of local citizens.
Key to the wider process was long-term sustainability and ownership of small business ideas and the bringing together of young people, young groups of people to work together. After start-up grants were provided, NAR staff worked closely to mentor and provide guidance of specific small business activities as well as provide accompanying kits, such as plumbing kits and sewing machines to support small business activities.
Today, there are people working as chefs in top class hotels in Kigali, making their own arts and crafts and running well established barber shops, as a result of their participation in NAR’s economic empowerment project and who undertook vocational and other trainings as part of small job creation and involvement in sustainable skills development. This pillar widely reflects NAR’s mandate and core values of ‘Empowerment, Respect, Teamwork, Excellence and Honesty working towards sustainable peace and socio-economic development’. Future prospects include NAR looking to better support young people and other citizens by creating links and providing information on opportunities to access micro-finance institutions, the Business Development Forum and bank institutions to enable access to small loans facility for start-ups of small businesses.
NAR’s motto of the above process could be said to be:
“How the small income acquired enables people to work together towards a common goal’, towards a more unified society that forms bridges across the development needs of communities.”