Empowering youth through Diversified income sources

Meet Angelique Ukwidukunda a member of one of the two Youth Cooperative from Nyamirama sector, Kayonza district as she shares how this enterprise is positively impacting on the youthful mothers’ lives. Angelique is reaping big from agroforestry farming and her knitting Enterprise

Angelique is 25 years and a mother of 4 children. She lives in the rural area of Gasogi village with her family. In the year 2020 she joined Twitezimbere Cooperative which is supported by Benishyaka/Vi Agroforestry under the Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Agriculture Project, where she received trainings on financial literacy, village saving and loan association (VSLA) and on sustainable agriculture land management (SALM)practices to support her adapt to the impacts of climate change and she is now reaping big. She has so far planted over 2,000 Agroforestry trees, received a pig which has since multiplied to 8 pigs, and set up gabions in her farm to control soil erosion. From her farm she produces vegetables for sell and for home consumption.

Angelique in her garden

Angelique also joined the sweater knitting group, where they knit and sell scarves, sweaters, and other products to the local market. From all her proceeds she is now able to pay the national medical insurance for her family and can afford medicine, food costs and everyday basic needs. She hopes to grow this enterprise to enable her access bigger market soon; “much money is yet to come”, she said proudly.

Like any business, they face challenges; “we have challenges on how to cheaply buy raw materials, machines are few compared to the numbers of youth trained and marketing our products is still a problem as we live in rural areas…

Her farm which is small (less than 1ha) is not enough to produce food and income. As such, she supplements the income from her knitting enterprise. In 2021 her average annual income from the farm was 100,000 Rwf (the equivalent to USD100), from the sale of vegetables. She thinks complimenting these two enterprises has been a smart move in securing her future.

Angelique attributes all her success to the support that Benishyaka/Vi Agroforestry has given to the youth Cooperative through the Youth Empowerment for sustainable Agriculture project.

Benishyaka, a partner of Vi Agroforestry in Rwanda, is working with youth in Ndego and Nyamirama sectors of Kayonza district to implement Vi Afgroforestry ALIVE programme. Most of the youth are teen mothers who lack resources to cater for their children. Together with Vi Agroforestry, Benishyaka is implementing Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Agriculture (YESA) project, which is helping the youths establish sustainable farm and off farm income generating activities to diversify incomes.

Through the project youths are acquiring life skills in knitting and establishing businesses to produce and sell diverse knitted products (sweaters, baby clothes etc ), over and above their cooperatives’ sustainable agricultural enterprises. The knitting enterprise is helping them diversify their sources of income.