Strategic partnership to connect young Rwandans to dignified work in tourism and hospitality

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RWANDA Development Board has announced a strategic partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the Hanga Ahazaza initiative to build critical links between young job seekers and employers, work with employers to develop skills training programmes for young employees, and identify skills gaps in Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality sector.

Hanga Ahazaza is a $50 million initiative from the Mastercard Foundation to increase work opportunities for 30,000 Rwandan youth over five years. Since its launch in 2018, the Hanga Ahazaza initiative has reached more than 3,000 Rwandan youth through skills programs and work opportunities, and supported 183 micro-,small-, and medium-sized businesses.

Hanga Ahazaza, meaning ‘create the future’, is a consortium of partners from the education, development, and private sectors. Working together, they are supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs in the tourism and hospitality sector through increased access to financial services and training, and by connecting them to young people who have the skills needed to be successful employees.

‘The government believes in promoting tourism and hospitality and has tirelessly supported the creation of a conducive environment for the sector to prosper and benefit our people,’ said Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board. ‘However, we require a skilled workforce to cope with the growing trends of the industry. The Mastercard Foundation Hanga Ahazaza initiative is playing a significant role in addressing this challenge.’

Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality sector is a key national priority and is growing at a rapid pace, with ripple effects in other sectors, such as agriculture and food processing. However, challenges remain for young job seekers and entrepreneurs, including gaps in skills development, work placement and experience, and access to financial services.

‘The Rwanda Development Board has made great strides to advance Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality sector to be globally competitive by providing multiple opportunities for a young and growing labour force,’ said Rica Rwigamba, Senior Programme Manager and Acting Country Representative of the Mastercard Foundation. ‘Together, we will strengthen the quality of skills training, support, and resources required to prepare young people for current and future work in this sector.’

Partners collaborating in the Hanga Ahazaza initiative include Cornell University, Dalberg, ESPartners, GIZ, GroFin, Harambee, Horwath HTL, I&M Bank Rwanda, Inkomoko, Question Coffee, and Vatel Rwanda.

‘The tourism and hospitality sector can open doors for many young people like myself,’ said Florence Muhongayire, graduate of Cornell University’s professional e-learning programme that is part of the Hanga Ahazaza initiative. ‘I now have the skills I need to compete in this market and I want to help bring the industry up to standard by sharing what I’ve learned with others.’

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