In the green and beautiful landscapes of Rugendabari Sector in Rwanda’s Muhanga District lives Felix Munyemana, a youth caregiver who has strived for better living standards for his siblings after his mother died and his father remarried. Felix was recruited into the Giving Hope Program by other youth involved in Umuco Forum, a network of Giving Hope Youth Working Groups in Rungendabari Sector. His participation in the group not only created a safe space for him, but also enabled him to reflect on, document and pursue his dreams.
Felix received training on animal husbandry, gaining skills that enabled him to start keeping goats and rabbits. He also learned how to establish a kitchen garden, which complements his household nutritional needs. Within a period of one year, Felix now owns five goats and eleven rabbits and easily accesses vegetables for him and his siblings from his kitchen garden.
As a participant in the program and active member of his youth working group, Felix applied for a 200,000 RWF ($300) grant from the working group’s revolving fund to expand his income generating activities. The money was advanced to him as a loan from the Youth Forum Basket Fund. This fund is managed by the youth, and was seeded by a grant provided by CWS to inspire youth economic empowerment action and strengthen such youth activities within the forums. With the loan, he was able to start a shop that sells basic commodities like salt, rice, and beans. This really touched the lives of many community members who used to walk long distances to the marketplace to access such basic commodities.
Felix’ entrepreneurial and explorative skills and his interest in information technology led him to introduce the mobile technology for money transfer in his shop as a complimentary service. He now provides his customers mobile money services as an agent to one of the biggest mobile communication company in Rwanda, TIGO. This earned him a new name from his community and customers, who now call him “Mr.Tigo” because he is the first to offer the mobile money service in his village, which is considered to be remote, and largely inaccessible due to poor infrastructure.
Felix is able to make extra money from each transaction. His siblings are now able to attend school and he is able to raise them with ease compared to the time before he joined the program. He recently purchased a piece of land near a centre called “Nyundo” where he plans to build his dream house. From the proceeds of his business, Felix is paying his loan, and he encourages other youth in the Forum to tap from the same kitty to improve their lives.
He attributes his positive social and economic transformation and empowerment as a youth to the Giving Hope Program and lauds the empowerment methodology for his success. He is in a better position to provide for his siblings, encourage and inspire hope among the youth in the community and has managed to influence positive change in attitude of most community members against vulnerable youth and orphans. His dream of being a businessman is gradually becoming true.