In August 2012, 39 young women graduated from the first women’s college in Rwanda with 100% job placement. Akilah graduates have launched their careers in the hospitality and tourism industry, working at luxury hotels, eco-lodges, tour companies, airlines, and more.
The hospitality and tourism industry is the fastest growing sector of the Rwandan economy and the largest foreign earner. Akilah alumni are playing an instrumental role in developing this industry. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the International Labor Office (ILO), employment generated by the hospitality and tourism industry plays a substantial role in economic growth and poverty reduction on a global level. As Akilah alumni take on professional roles in this industry, they are building their families and communities and also contributing to national prosperity. Furthermore, these young professionals are closing the skill deficit in the local economy and applying their industry knowledge in their places of employment.
Recent graduate Providence Ingabire is now working in the sales department of Thousand Hills Expeditions, an award winning tourism company with offices in Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. Providence works primarily in communications and operations, in which she develops itineraries, makes hotel and restaurant reservations, creates invoices, and manages travel logistics for global clients, ensuring a quality travel service. Providence says that she uses her skills from Akilah daily, stating, “I use my IT skills from Akilah. I use Excel formulas when I’m sending revenue percentages to marketing companies. The [software] skills I gained from Akilah help me a lot when I am doing calculations.” She also says that her front office and tourism skills gained from Akilah help her perform well on the job. “I am especially using my confidence that I learned at Akilah,” she says.
Graduates like Nina Kenyana are also working hard and utilizing their skills from Akilah to advance in their careers. Nina currently works in the switchboard department of the luxurious Kigali Serena Hotel, the same hotel in which she completed her internship requirement while a student at Akilah. Nina’s responsibilities include booking reservations, connecting ingoing and outgoing calls, and receiving customer inquiries, and she consistently applies her knowledge from Akilah when performing these duties. “I apply my skills from Akilah in so many ways. I am using my customer care skills and the English I learned at Akilah,” she says.
On Peace Ndayizeye’s first day at Akilah in 2010, she enthusiastically declared that her ultimate goal was to work for RwandAir, Rwanda’s premiere airline. After graduation, Peace got the chance to do exactly that and recently completed a training program with RwandAir’s sales and marketing division. Peace was responsible for assisting in product marketing and research, primarily concerning RwandAir’s Dream Miles rewards program. She also assisted in product research efforts, traveling throughout Kigali to interview clients and local businesses. After days in the field, Peace would write and submit reports to her supervisor. “I collected data and feedback and wrote reports on the challenges, problems that needed to be fixed, advice, and solutions,” she says, discussing a typical workday, “it was very exciting.”
Our alumni are proud of their positions and progress with their career development. “I am very happy for myself,” says Nina, discussing her position with The Serena. Providence echoes this mindset, saying, “I am enjoying it and I like the work environment. I am happy to be [with Thousand Hills Expeditions].” No matter which path they have chosen, whether they are working in high-end hotels or renowned tour companies, Akilah graduates prove that their leadership and entrepreneurial skills have followed them beyond the Akilah campus. They are working hard to succeed in their professional careers, but more importantly, they are working hard to ensure a more promising future for all of Rwanda.
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