Akilah Women Give Back

On Thursday, January 8, 18 students from Akilah’s Foundation in Management and Entrepreneurship class visited Imizi Children’s Center (formerly Rwanda Orphan’s Project) to donate money raised from their student-run business. As part of the class, students split into small groups to run businesses on campus for two months. Last semester, students in their third year at Akilah, sold burgers, fruit salad, and cake to their peers.

The experience teaches students the basics of cost accounting, marketing, and the expected ups and downs that come with managing a business. At the end of the two months, students must collectively decide what to do with the profits of their sales. With different ideas from all 18 students to consider, it wasn’t easy for them to agree. Some students suggested using the profits to help classmates who struggle to pay tuition. Others thought it was a good idea to open a savings account for future businesses. However, in the end, a donation to Imizi was the final decision.

Why Imizi? In January 2014, the same class of women visited Imizi for the first time, as part of their Social Change Project. They had such a wonderful time that they decided to continue to support the organization’s good work. Imizi (meaning “roots” in Kinyarwanda) serves as both an orphanage for 70 boys ages five to 18 years old, and a free education center for an additional 70 children from the local community. These boys and girls come from low-income and vulnerable families and would otherwise not be able to afford to go to school.

At Imizi last year, Akilah students taught the boys some key lessons in leadership.
They spoke about how important it is for the boys to believe that their past does not determine their future, and to not limit themselves. This lesson hits close to home for many of the young women as well, as many arrived at Akilah lacking confidence. In time, they learned to develop their skills through determination, hard work, and passion. This was what they hoped to pass on to the boys at Imizi.

This week, when the Akilah women went back to Imizi to give their donation, they were welcomed by staff and about 50 of the boys. On behalf of the Akilah students, Assumpta, thanked all the boys at Imizi for inspiring them. She talked about how much she and her classmates had learned from the boys and how she hopes they can continue their relationship with Imizi.

Imizi Executive Director Sean Jones, accepted the donation and shared with the group that he hoped the generosity of the Akilah students would be an example for the boys. “These aren’t rich people. They could have needed the money but they chose to donate,” he said of the Akilah students.

Moses Senyonjo and Stanley Mukasa, the Akilah Entrepreneurship instructors who organized the visit, were proud to see the young women of Akilah are well on their way to becoming entrepreneurs with social impact.