As a result of the majority of Rwandan youth being part of the agricultural sector, The Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) was created but despite this, the country’s Minister of Youth and ICT feels more can be done.
Despite agriculture absorbing about 70 per cent of the country’s population, the sector believes that banks are not making it easy for the youth to pursue more jobs in the agribusiness sector through unnecessary regulation.
“Why business plans? Do I need a business plan to improve my banana plantation, if I just need money to buy input – why should I write a business plan, prove the Internal Rate of Return, why?” said Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda Minister of Youth and ICT.
Nsengimana challenged bankers to understand culture, stating that they should be more like the Development Bank of Rwanda which does not ask people in the coffee value chain for business plans because they understand how to finance coffee when the harvest season nears, “they don’t send people to write business plans.”
He was addressing the issue of experienced farmers who have been in the industry for years, who then struggle to expand when banks expect business proposals from them instead of understanding the way they do business.
“I think the banks sometimes make things complicated for nothing and instead of moving from a mind-set of business plans and projects, they should come up with products,” he added.
Nsengimana put himself in the shoes of a graduate and tried to imagine the appeal of a job in agribusiness, and says he sees none, stating that graduates are comparing themselves to their peers in white collar jobs.
“The entry job in the public sector of somebody who brings a bachelor’s degree, is somewhere between 180 000 – 250 000 [Rwandan Franc] (USD 231.00 – 321.00) if you’re very lucky,” he said.
The minister believes Rwanda had the “formula for success was opportunity”, but he does not see it working when he implements it into agriculture.
“Are there not enough opportunities for everyone or the opportunities are very few only the rich people have already taken all of them?” he probed.
Nsengimana also on the issue of skills says, “If there is anything that is in shortage in this country, it is not schools,” he said but that is irrelevant because any educated person should be able to translate it to agriculture, “it is not rocket science”.