This week marks Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Rwanda’s ten year anniversary!
Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Rwanda is a youth-led movement of daring social innovators who have the tools, knowledge, and networks to create opportunities and transform their own communities.
Launched in 2010, DOT Rwanda is proud to be women-led and locally staffed with strong local and international partnership networks that extend across diverse communities in urban and rural settings.
Over the last decade, DOT Rwanda has established a strong and innovative alumni network of 821 #DOTYouth digital champions, community leaders, and social innovators , who have empowered their peers and community members. 108,286 (60% women) Rwandans in total have been empowered with digital, entrepreneurial and leadership skills, resilience, and networks to secure and create meaningful livelihoods and contribute to the development of their communities.
As we celebrate ten years of youth-led community impact in Rwanda, we are extremely proud to spotlight 18 incredible #DOTYouth alumni who are driving sustainable economic growth, community development, women’s empowerment and bridging the digital divide.
Here are 18 #DOTYouth alumni in Rwanda who are leading community impact:
Jean Rubangutsangabo is an Urban Economist with the City of Kigali in charge of economic development. Jean joined DOT Rwanda in April 2011 as an Intern delivering business, ICT and livelihoods skills aimed at empowering vulnerable community members in Gasabo district. In addition to academic qualifications, Jean has leveraged his skills and experiences gained from his involvement with DOT Rwanda to grow his career.
“The technology, communication, training expertise, and community leadership, as well as the self-confidence skills I gained throughout the DOT’s programs have significantly contributed to my professional and personal development. When I was delivering the training to low skilled community members, I discovered that I was developing personal capabilities, which paved the way to my successful journey as a leader. After DOT Rwanda, I joined the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning as a Sector Specialist in Project Management and Monitoring and was later appointed Urban Economist, in charge of economic development in the City of Kigali.”
Frederick is currently a Division Manager, EAC and Eastern African Countries at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Rwanda. He joined DOT Rwanda as an Intern in April 2011, where he trained women and youth in ICT, business and livelihoods skills.
“My involvement with DOT Rwanda has been my instrument as a diplomat and as a technical person. The experience strengthened my self confidence and public speaking skills through the training I got from DOT Rwanda, and applying those to train community members. I got the opportunity to meet people from different calibers, opinions, age groups, and gender”. DOT Rwanda natured both my confidence, and the skills to live with people from a multitude of experiences and backgrounds, which helped me to live on the pacific continent for 6 years, and have been instrumental in my role as a diplomat and technical personal.”
Ange is the founder of Zima Enterprise, a company that makes pastries like (bread, cake, cookies), pumpkin flour, roasted seeds, pumpkin seed flour. Her common ingredient is pumpkin.
She joined DOT Rwanda in 2017 during Social Innovation Training, which inspired her to begin surfing the internet for recipes, especially how to make bread from pumpkin.” I started to experiment the recipes at a nearby bakery, which allowed me to use their oven to make pumpkin bread. After baking the first batch, I gave samples to my neighbours for feedback, something I had learned from DOT Rwanda’s programs. “The feedback I got from my colleagues after testing my prototype encouraged me to apply to the 2017 DOT Rwanda’s Social Enterprise Competition, which I won! The award motivated me to work hard and grow my initiative”, said Ange. She also won the 2017 National YouthConnekt Award.
“Having my own business has afforded me to be a job creator and not a job seeker – which has always been my dream,” says Mukagahima, who has now been able to employ five permanent workers along with casual workers. “Now, my innovation and determination have become a wake-up motivation to several youth who still thought of office jobs only.”
Vumi Kacheche is the Head of Vocational and Commercial (Capacity Development) Program – Sparkassenstiftung (German Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation). His current job deals a lot with empowering low-income groups in the field of financial inclusion, entrepreneurship development and sustainable livelihoods. He joined DOT Rwanda in 2011 as an Intern, delivering business, ICT and livelihoods skills to community members. “DOT Rwanda is the foundation for my professional work experience. I can proudly say the foundation was firm and still lives on with me. The ICT skills, communication skills, training expertise, interpersonal and leadership skills that I acquired were certainly an added value and prepared me for the henceforth professional development and endeavors after DOT Rwanda and up to now.”
“Additionally, working directly with stakeholders of DOT Rwanda’s programs, including beneficiaries, allowed me to gain first-hand experience in the dynamics of youths economic empowerment and socio-economic development. This has profoundly contributed to the growth of my career paths in Development Economics at various levels, and the journey started with DOT Rwanda.”
Djamilla Khamisi Mathu
Djamilla is the Business Coach Consultant and a Youth Leadership Advisory Board member (YouthLAB) for DOT Rwanda . She joined DOT Rwanda in 2012 as an Intern offering training in basic business skills, ICT and employment readiness skills to local community members.
“DOT Rwanda was a good foundation for me. I gained professional experience that gave me a foundation to build my career. I leveraged on the leadership and research skills I got from my involvement with DOT to apply to Carnegie Mellon University in 2016 to study a Masters’ of Electrical and Computer Engineering, specializing in Data Science.”
Rosine is the Recruitment Specialist at One Acre Fund. Her day-to-day responsibilities are to help One Acre Fund to source talents in order to ensure the organization recruits high level talents. She joined DOT Rwanda in 2012 as an Intern. “The skills and experiences I gained through my engagement with DOT Rwanda have been of great advantage for me to advance in my career. Some of the skills I gained from DOT include building an open minded and optimistic outlook, building confidence, always looking for opportunities for learning, striving for growth, receiving feedback to improve, networking, and community leadership. The research skills I acquired helped me land my first position at One Acre Fund as a recruiter. I continued to grow and have now been promoted up to being a Recruitment Specialist.”
Clément is the Coordinator of the Education Unit at Imbuto Foundation. His responsibilities focus on managing and integrating projects in the areas of Early Childhood Development and Education. He joined DOT Rwanda as an Intern in Gicumbi district in November, 2011.
“It was my first ever work experience as a university graduate. I learnt about organizing my work and becoming autonomous since I was deployed in a rural district with minimum supervision. I was in a position where I had to represent the organization in district-level forums, which required me to ensure I knew how to package and pitch the work of my organization to partners, beneficiaries and local leaders. It was also my first time experience in contributing to the preparation of action plans, progress reports and monitoring and evaluation reports.”
Regis is the co-founder and Director at CARL Group, a youth-led company focusing on adding value to the sweet potatoes by processing them into pastries: bread and biscuits. His responsibilities as the director is to set the vision for the company and make sure all the activities are run to lead to the set vision.
Regis participated in the DOT Rwanda’s Gera Ku Ntego competition in 2015, and won first prize. The prize money they won helped them establish CARL Group. “During the competition, we learned different skills, like writing a business plan, business model and pitching. Not only did we win the first prize as seed capital, we also took part in boot camp. It is this opportunity that has brought CARL Group to where it is now. We have grown from traditional methods of production to modern methods, producing high quality products. So far, we are the only bread making company with the RSB certification. When we started we were only supplying three boutiques, but now we are supplying 35 supermarkets, and 5 online stores using platforms like Vuba Vuba, DMM HeHe, Mu Rukari.com, etc.”
Amina is the CEO of DUKATAZE “keep going”, a social innovation and online platform with the aim of empowering girls mentally, socially and economically so as to reduce the influences of the main causes of unwanted pregnancies.
“I joined DOT Rwanda in May 2018 as an aspiring young social innovator when they were launching Impactathon Learning Journey under the theme: ‘ Solutions that work for women.”
“In 2019, I participated in DOT Rwanda Gera Ku Ntego competition and won. When I joined DOT, my project was just an idea and I was even afraid to start the implementation. DOT Rwanda programs empowered me with the confidence to put my ideas into actions. This was done through a Business Model Generation simulation where I created my Social Innovation Business Model. DOT also introduced me to my innovation pitch, the skill that has been helping me as I meet with potential partners.”
Origene is the Founder of O’ Genius Panda, a digital innovation that is providing access to modern learning tools to thousands of Rwandan Secondary School scholars. He joined DOT Rwanda in 2017, as a Digital Champion training youth and women with digital literacy skills. He took part in the DOT’s social innovation learning journey, during which he tested and prototyped O’ Genius Panda. “Testing the first version of O’GENIUS PANDA on the market introduced me to the business world. It also helped me determine if my project will work and respond to the needs of my customers. I have won three national awards, including 2017 DOT Rwanda Social Enterprise Competition. Today, O’ Genius Panda is providing access to modern learning tools to more than 14,000 students from 499 secondary schools.”
Colette is currently the Programme Policy Officer, Gender and Protection, World Food Programme. She joined DOT Rwanda in 2012 as an Intern in Musanze district and 2013 as Research and Gender Officer. As a DOT Rwanda Gender officer, her responsibilities were to ensure gender equity in DOT Rwanda programs: designing gender strategy, ensuring and encouraging young women’s participation in learning, training and promoting gender equity across DOT Rwanda programs.
“DOT Rwanda taught me many things. I learned a lot about leadership, discovering my potential, navigating work, discovering opportunities outside DOT, getting exposed to expertise in my field through my work and the people I met. DOT Rwanda also provided me with a great working environment that empowered me to balance work, family and my studies. I earned my Masters’ Degree in Gender and Development, which opened new doors for me. In a nutshell, DOT Rwanda natured my confidence, and gave me colleagues as role models/mentors both career wise and personally.”
Joseph is the National Technical Assistant in charge of Organizational Development and Equity at APEFE (Association pour la Promotion de l’Education et Formation à l’Étranger). He coordinates the capacity building and engagement of the private sector’s chambers, professional associations and enterprises involved in the skills development (dual training).
He joined DOT Rwanda in November 2011 as an Intern in Rubavu district. Then later, he was promoted to DOT Rwanda’s enterprise officer position. “Something that I can’t forget is that I joined DOT Rwanda some days before my graduation at the University of Rwanda, which means, I really had no experience and almost nothing to give. I can’t thank DOT Rwanda enough, as from day one, I received regular capacity development training, work experience and exposure, which shaped me and oriented the rest of my professional journey. The foundation of my professional growth starts with DOT Rwanda where I acquired communication, leadership, mobilization, facilitation, entrepreneurship and Business skills, essential in my current duties and engagement with the private sector in Rwanda. I really command DOT Rwanda’s youth empowerment programs, which give a unique opportunity to fresh graduates to be shaped and prepared for the labor market.”
Jeannette is the founder of Inzira Dreamz Network, a social enterprise that manufactures affordable african handmade bags, clothes and shoes, and a current Youth Leadership Advisory Board member (YouthLAB) for DOT Rwanda.
Jeannette joined DOT Rwanda in 2016, during the Social Enterprise competition. She is a graduate of DOT Rwanda’s social entrepreneurship programs. “Throughout my involvement with DOT Rwanda, I acquired the skills that helped me refine my business ideas. I received training on how to design a business model canvas, pitching skills among others. I also acquired networking skills that have helped me forge partnerships as I grow Inzira Dreamz Network. These skills have helped me to win awards from Youth Connekt, and the KCB Foundation’s Igire programme . In 2018, Jeannette was among the top 40 young entrepreneurs in Rwanda selected by the Accelerator Academy.
Benithe is the Founder of Their Voice Foundation (TVF), a social enterprise that provides teens with information about sexual and reproductive health and training in life and entrepreneurial skills. The foundation’s activities are partially supported through the sale of liquid soaps made by women and girls living in poverty, with the majority of funds going towards paying those soapmakers a fair wage.
“I joined DOT Rwanda in 2017 as an aspiring young innovator, and I have learned a lot in terms of increasing my confidence as a young woman and becoming a social entrepreneur. DOT’s Launch Lab helped me to come up with an excellent business model, which has been getting much recognition. Throughout the DOT’s Street Team program, I have also built good networking in Rwanda and in East Africa, meeting people in the same sector. I have got so many opportunities including being AEGIS TRUST youth Champion , attending AU Summit 2019 , COMESA youth Leaders Bootcamp and 2021 Young Citizen training Program. All these have contributed to my growth, and I am very proud to be such a young woman who is building solutions that work for other young women.”
Papy is a youth with visual impairment. He joined DOT Rwanda in 2015 as an Intern delivering ICT, business and livelihood training to other youth with disabilities at Uwezo Youth Empowerment. Papy was awarded a Chevening Scholarship by British government, and is currently completing a Masters of Science in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at University of Portsmouth in UK.
As a DOT Rwanda Facilitator, Papy was always dreaming to start his own business as he wanted to be a role model to his peers with disabilities and impact his communities. Papy encouraged his participants to become leaders in their communities. He also helped them to discover their strengths and identify available assets in their communities in order to start income generating activities. Papy wanted to practice what he preached to DOT Rwanda Programs’ participants. Eventually, he managed to come up with his own business idea to inspire his trainees not to fear starting their businesses. This is how Papy started his own business of hatching chicken eggs that he named “Broiler Home Ltd.”
Papy’s work was recognized by both national and international organizations. He was selected to participate in Yali Regional Leadership Center, by the US Embassy to participate in the 2017 Mandela Washington fellowship program and for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program’s seed capital.
Jeanne Bovine Ishemaryayo
Jeanne is the founder of Calm Geek ltd , a social enterprise that develops software. E-vuze is one of the electronic platforms developed through Calm Geek ltd. The platform serves as an all-in-one integrated service management system for individual healthcare providers to store lifetime patient records under a single patient ID as well as track finances, medical supplies and inventory.
Jeanne joined DOT Rwanda in 2017 during the Impactathon. “DOT Rwanda’s programs offer unique ways to identify one’s hidden talents and utilize them. Prior to joining DOT Rwanda, I couldn’t allocate much time to find out what makes me feel strong. After noticing the times when I feel my strongest, I started creating more opportunities. DOT’s Social entrepreneurship programs empowered me with skills to develop my Impact Business Model Canvas. I used the tool to order significant aspects of the e-vuze platform. Using the canvas has led to insights about the customers and beneficiaries I serve, what value propositions offered through what channels, and how my company makes money. I always struggled to clearly pitch my business idea, that’s why I entered the DOT’s Impactathon. I am now growing the impact among women, training university and recent graduates to enhance their ideas through technology and entrepreneurial skills.”
Etienne is an Agriculture Extension Consultant currently serving as Digital Agriculture Extension Advisor at The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity, a USAID-funded project. He joined DOT Rwanda in March 2014 as an Intern delivering business, ICT and livelihoods skills in Huye district. “Through the DOT’s programs I discovered my passion for community development. It was when I founded the Youth Engagement in Agriculture Network “YEAN”, a social enterprise for Agriculture Extension that provides extension and advisory services to farmers. The YEAN is now serving a network of 18,000 farmers with the target to reach 150,000 farmers with private agriculture extension by 2025. Since then I used the skills gained from DOT programs and worked for YEAN, which gave me the experience and the capacity to be useful to other organizations. DOT gave me a unique opportunity to learn how ICT coupled with entrepreneurship are useful to advance the development of other sectors. Digital extension and data driven agriculture being a hot topic now. I use my agronomy knowledge coupled with digital technology to advance the digital extension and advisory services in the Agriculture sector.”
Ariane Umuringa is the co-founder of Starlight. An ed-tech start up that produces STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) products to introduce high school students and youth to technology, and to help them experience and apply the concepts they learn in school to the real world. Starlight also conducts one to six-months workshops to introduce and acquaint high school students and the youth with technology and science.
Ariane joined DOT Rwanda in 2017 during the Gera Ku Ntego business competition, during which she went through the ideation and prototyping of her social initiative. “One of the important things that I benefited from my involvement with DOT is network.” Through programs like the DOT Youth Unconference, I got the opportunity to connect with professionals, mentors, and other social innovators from several countries including Rwanda to share innovation experiences. These networking skills and networks helped me to develop partnerships and collaborations that I would otherwise not have made”. The networks have helped me as I grow my start-up,” Ariane says.