Fuelling Youth Entrepreneurship in Rwanda with Aguka

By Stella Tushabe

May 11, 2023

Young people responded to the Aguka Launch event in numbers


Life is about competitiveness—especially for young entrepreneurs. So said the Hon. Utumatwishima J.N. Abdallah, Minister of Youth, at the launch of an ambitious programme called Aguka. “Having a good idea or a well-written project is not enough; one must also possess competence and excellence in their endeavours,” he said.

The Ministry of Youth, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), launched Aguka on May 10th, 2023. Through 2026, it will provide comprehensive support to young entrepreneurs, from the initial stages of ideation, through skill development, seed funding and the expansion of their ventures.

The programme aims to enhance youth employability and generate over 100,000 jobs, contributing to private sector development and the socioeconomic transformation of the country.

Aguka offers a wide range of services to micro, small, and medium-sized youth-led enterprises, The ultimate objective is to prepare young entrepreneurs to succeed in the highly competitive business landscape while encouraging them to become leaders and innovators in their respective sectors.

Belen Calvo Uyarra, the Ambassador of the European Union to Rwanda reiterated the delegation’s support to youth’s entrepreneurial journey. She said “Every business idea aiming at improving society’s needs is worth it. Youth do not be afraid to start. The EU will support you throughout your journey”. 

Attitude matters

Mr. Maxwell Gomera, the UNDP Rwanda's Resident Representative, addressed the youth at the Aguka Programme Launch, emphasizing the importance of attitude. He stated, "Attitude matters, as it is the first real capital young entrepreneurs need. To thrive, one needs to be tenacious and have a can-do attitude. The Aguka Programme will give our young people the opportunity to leave the world a dash better than they found it."

In addition to that can-do attitude, aspiring entrepreneurs need the concrete support that will come from strategic partnerships with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Norrsken, and the African Management Institute (AMI). TEF will empower 1,600 young Rwandans through entrepreneurship training, seed funding, and one-on-one mentorship. Norrsken and AMI, on the other hand, will provide post-incubation support to 400 advanced youth-led SMEs, including entrepreneurship capacity building, financial support, mentorship, and investments.

Aguka builds on existing initiatives like YouthConnekt and the national youth SMEs and start-up ecosystem. By leveraging these complementarities and fostering a new generation of innovative enterprises, Aguka aims to propel Rwanda's socioeconomic progress to new heights, with the potential for scaling up across the entire African continent.

Together with our partners we aim to shape a future where Rwandan youth thrive, driving innovation, job creation, and socioeconomic progress. This collaborative endeavour stands as a testament to our shared vision and dedication to unlocking the boundless possibilities that lie within Rwanda's vibrant entrepreneurial landscape.