From Job Seeker to Eco-friendly Farmer
As we celebrate International Youth Day, Harambee is proud to share one young person’s effort to transform food systems through innovation. Meet Yvonne Umuraza and learn more about her journey from job seeker to self employed farmer, eco-friendly farmer.
Yvonne completed her Bachelor’s degree in 2011 at the University of Rwanda, majoring in chemistry. After years of searching for work, she joined Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in 2018 and participated in a work-seeker support training. The training equips young people with skills to compete on the job market. Yvonne enjoyed the “problem solving for earning” course, and it inspired her to start her own business.
“At Harambee, I learned that I shouldn’t wait for a job that matches what I studied, but be open and make use of the knowledge I have already. I was also able to improve my English speaking skills, which I use a lot in my business,” she said.
Shortly after completing the training, Yvonne came up with the idea of starting a business growing food in recycled plastic bottles and cups using minimum soil.
“I was looking for something that requires little capital and resources, is economically sustainable, and environment friendly,” said Yvonne.
Yvonne assessed the feasibility of her idea, and how similar businesses work. She started her business by collecting plastic bottles and yoghurt containers from Nduba Landfill in Kigali and then planting vegetables such as green beans and tomatoes in those containers.
The system she pioneered is proving to be very productive. She recently harvested more than 600 kilograms of tomatoes on just 2×5 metres of land within three months. The business is also benefiting her community, which now has access to fresh vegetables and employment in growing the crops. Additionally, it aligns with the government’s goals of sustaining the environment.
Yvonne is proud of her business and the opportunities it has created. For example, she recently completed her Executive MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship at the Catholic University of Milan through a scholarship with the E4Impact programme.
“I encourage young people to never give up, be innovative, confident and dare to implement your ideas.”
Yvonne plans to grow her business and continue to contribute to the sustainability of our planet.
“I want to expand the products that I provide by offering training on kitchen gardens to different households and diversifying the crops I grow, as well as exporting them beyond Rwanda’s borders.”
You can register for Harambee Work Seeker Support training at www.harambee.rw/register/.