Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs on the Rise

With the right mix of skills and confidence, rural youth in East Africa are building sustainable enterprises and creating new opportunities.

STRYDE youth participant

Young entrepreneurs like 27-year-old Marie Olive Uwimana have the capacity to be important agents of change in rural areas. After building her skills in business and financial management through the STRYDE program, Olive launched a successful bakery in Musanze District, Rwanda, and is creating much needed jobs in her community.

In a video interview with Devex, TechnoServe’s Macani Toungara explains how STRYDE’s emphasis on personal effectiveness and skills training has led to positive results.

The STRYDE program, implemented by TechnoServe in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, has reached 15,000 youth in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda in its first phase, providing participants with the skills and confidence to start businesses, secure formal jobs or pursue opportunities in agriculture. For Olive, the financial literacy training module was a critical component. She identified a market opportunity, but didn’t know how to raise the capital to get her idea off the ground. After completing the training, Olive taught the concepts to her parents and together they secured $1,000 in loans to invest in her new business.

A bulk of that money went toward the purchase of an electric mixing machine, which has allowed Olive to cut down on labor costs and improve the quality of her bread. Applying her newfound marketing knowledge, Olive also introduced sugar-free baked goods to her inventory.

Eighteen months later, Olive’s business is thriving. She has repaid more than half of her loans and hired seven permanent and three temporary employees. She has a clear vision for her business, with plans to invest in more modern equipment, expand her offerings and hire more staff.

I’m proud to play some role in supporting my parents.”
– Olive

The income from the bakery has also allowed Olive, the second of eight children, to contribute financially to her family. She pays for her younger sister’s school fees and materials, and she has hired her brother as an employee. “We have a very big family,” she says. “I’m proud to play some role in supporting my parents.”

Building on the success of the first STRYDE program in supporting enterprising young women and men like Olive, TechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation recently launched STRYDE 2.0. This five-year initiative will reach 48,000 more rural youth, expanding into Tanzania and other new geographies. The new program is noteworthy not only for its scope, but for its partnerships with local institutions to ensure sustainability. TechnoServe will develop the capacity of local public and private institutions to deliver the program for 40 percent of the participants.

“The new test for us right now is finding out can we successfully transition [this model] to other institutions,” says Macani Toungara, TechnoServe’s director for program development, in a recent interview with Devex.

Learn more about how the STRYDE program is promoting sustainable economic opportunities for youth in East Africa.