The Ministry of Labor and Public Service (Mifotra) yesterday launched a new initiative dubbed "Kuremera program" meant to foster job creation among people who lack start up capital.
The program, originated from last March's national leadership retreat in Gako, consists of providing needy people like former street vendors and graduates with start up capital enabling them to get basic facilities so that they can run their own small businesses.
According to Anastase Murekezi, Mifotra's minister, the five-year program targets primarily unskilled, semiskilled young people and women as they make a large part of active population, but representing a high rate of unemployment.
"The government of Rwanda believes that employment promotion is essential in Rwanda's development," said the minister during the launch that coincided with the second national employment stakeholders' forum.
Statistics from the ministry reveal that young people aged between 16 and 35 years represent 61.5 per cent of the active population. On average, 125,000 young people newly join the labor market every.
"This requires us to create at least 200,000 new jobs every year from 104,000 created now in order to address the issue of unemployment," said the minister.
In line with the country's target to achieve 50 per cent of off-farm activities by 2020, Kuremera will focus on off-farm businesses, agro processing and commercial agriculture. Small scale traders in commerce, tailoring, knitting, and carpentry, tile works, repair services, bakeries, restaurants, manufacturing, ICT, hair salons, cobblers and other viable activities will be eligible.
Though the program targets needy people, the money will be paid back free of interests.
"It's really getting people into employment, but it's not going to be free cash, not social protection because they are going to bring it back with zero interests so that we can support other beneficiaries," explained Anna Mugabo, the director general of labor and employment at the ministry.
The fund will be provided by the government as well as development partners such as GIZ, International Labor Organization (ILO) and World Bank among others.
The initiative will be implemented in two phases. The first one starts this year in Kigali by supporting 1,000 beneficiaries while in the second one at least two people will be supported in each village of other parts of the country.