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Rwanda: First Lady Tips Youth on Passion, Innovation

First Lady Jeannette Kagame has urged young people to keep nurturing their talents if they are to bring to the world the relevant global solutions for socio-economic development.

While officiating at the YouthConnekt Champions and Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA) Awards ceremony, Mrs Kagame said that the world is in dire need of innovation that will bring about communal change for better.

“My wish is that these recognitions, will encourage you to keep nurturing your passion, and abilities to bring to this world much-needed innovations, while setting the bar high, for many more, will surely follow in your footsteps,” the First Lady told youthful CYRWA awardees and nominees who attended the event.

10 young achievers, individuals, entrepreneurs, and organistions whose work benefits youth, were recognized by First Lady’s organization Imbuto Foundation and the Ministry of Youth for their innovative approach and contributions that have significantly improved lives in the country and beyond.

“Young Achievers and YouthConnekt Champions who dared venture into fields that may have seemed out of their reach, remind us that there are no limitations to those who set their sights on a noble cause, and who seek to change our communities for the better,” First Lady noted.


First Lady  and Chairperson of Imbuto Foundation Jeannette Kagame delivering the opening remarks during the YouthConnekt Champions and Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers awards which was held at the Kigali Convention Centre. / Courtesy

To date, 37 young professionals have been rewarded for their creativity, intuition, and resourcefulness, by creating a change in their communities since the awards’ inception in 2007.

“This celebration is a testament, just like it was for your predecessors, that your passion ambition and hard work, did not go unrecognized. We see in you limitless abilities of our young men and women to develop something that will inspire generations to come…we believe that youth empowerment is more than just a concept, but rather a force for positive change in itself.” Mrs Kagame added.

Previous winners of CYRWA awards went on to become influential leaders in various capacities while other have grown their own businesses.


First Lady Jeannette Kagame delivering her remarks during the event held to honour young achievers. / Courtesy

Among them include Ines Mpambara, working as Director of Cabinet in the Office of the President and Diane Karusisi, Managing Director of BK Group PLC.

In a short appreciation speech, Mpambara noted that despite having a natural responsibility to serve the country, the award was an extra push to serve with more zeal and excellence.

“Being awarded was more of a push and we want to tell you we got the message clearly. We want to challenge our youth that we are not too young to take responsibility. The country is ours; we got back home when some had lost their lives (to liberate the country) but we are going to work hard with great spirit for this country,” Mpambara said.


Speaker Gayatri Datar of Earth Enable spoke to the diverse audience of young professionals and entrepreneurs. / Courtesy

CYRWA 2017 award recipient Jaures Habineza, the co-founder of the International Rwanda Youth for Development (IRYD)–a platform that seeks to create what they describe as “meaningful connections” among young Rwandans, leaders and friends of Rwanda across the globe said that their organisation was inspired by the few of their fellows back in Canada who hardly believed in peace and unity of Rwanda and Rwandans.

“We would travel to Rwanda and go back and interact with our fellows, with biased perception about Rwanda and slowly we have managed to change minds of thousands of youths in Canada and beyond about Rwanda.

“This is an encouragement for us to continue pushing for unity and reconciliation of young Rwandans abroad,” Habineza said shortly after receiving the award.

Habineza and his partner Moses Gashirabake played a significant role towards a successful Rwanda Youth Convention that was recently held in Edmonton Canada.

Patrick Nsenga Buchana, founder of AC Group–a company that initiated Tap and Go technology in public transport, also noted that his company started when most never believed it would come to where it is today.

“…but through hard work and teamwork, we have managed to grow and cover Kigali and make it the first cashless city in Africa and export our product to Cameroon and soon expanding to Ivory Coast and Ghana.”


Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi delivered the vote of thanks during the event. / Courtesy

Tap and Go is a technology that helps passengers using public transport to use electronic cards rather than pay cash.

Buchana, who has previously worked with The New Times, commended the First Lady for the recognition through the award.

Vanessa Bahati of Jordan Foundation, was awarded for establishing a charity foundation in honour of her visually impaired child, Jordan, and went on to support the development of dozens of children with visual impairment.

“My son’s impairment was a huge disappointment at first but it taught me to take the positivity out it by supporting many children with similar problem to my son’s. The award is indeed an encouragement for me to continue empowering children with special needs.

Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, noted that CYRWA awardees are exemplary and so they should be inspiring other young people to bring about positive change in their communities.

“Get ready for the new wave of partnerships, and this means new awards are coming your way if you continue working hard,” Mbabazi added.

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