Impact Stories & Blogs
Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.
By Janvier Manirakiza, Burundi (Cohort 8)
I traded my smart phone for a small amount of money to help a single mother of seven, who was struggling to survive. This was the beginning of my journey to community empowerment, which later led to forming Dreaming for Change, a nonprofit that aims to address poverty and illiteracy by providing quality education, economic development opportunities and sustainable agriculture to the impoverished communities in rural Burundi.
I learnt about YALI while working as a Communications Officer at Village Health Works in rural parts of Burundi. I can’t rightly express my joy to receive admission to Cohort 8, and I remember when I arrived at the Center I was very shy and had trouble interacting with my fellows. With time, my fears washed away and by the time I went back home, I was a different person.
It is after the program that I began an initiative of training a group of 105 unemployed young people from rural Rumonge province on how to start small businesses, applying the knowledge and skills I got from the Design Thinking class.
Shortly after, I was selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Appalachian State University, Boone North Carolina. After the MWF program, my family discouraged me from returning to Burundi due to the political instability at the time. However, I was excited to go back to Burundi and give back to my community by sharing what I learned from the program with Burundians.
YALI taught me to overcome my fear and to dream big. This is why in January 2018, I resigned from my fulltime job and went to start Dreaming for Change. I got “advice” from numerous people, discouraging my move to pursue ‘big and unrealistic dreams’. However, with the determination that YALI built in me, those noises never deterred me. We could be only five months old as Dreaming for Change, but the future looks really bright. I feel satisfied with my move and I have not lacked! I am able to support my family and I continue to dream big to transform Burundi, East Africa, and the continent at large.
Today I’m thankful to the YALI program for mentoring and guiding me into achieving my dreams. Dreaming for Change is now officially registered as a Burundi based nonprofit organization and there are expert YALI alumni and MWF fellows who serve on my Advisory Board. This is proof of the power of networking that YALI presents!
So far, we have been able to provide business skills and seed capital to 15 women, who are now generating income enabling them to feed their children and send them to school while they are also investing for the future. Fifteen might be a small number, but we are only five months old.
Our dream is to empower 10,000 underprivileged rural women by providing them business and entrepreneurship skills with seed funding to start their small businesses. That’s the sustainable way that will break up barriers of inequality, poverty and discrimination for women.