This is a story about how QCT’s support enabled Acts of Gratitude (AOG) to equip 133,326 young persons with social entrepreneurship skills in Rwanda.
If you were to visit the Gasabo and Bugesera districts in Rwanda, you’d find innovation hubs that provide young people, between the ages of 16-30, with social entrepreneurship skills training, coworking spaces, consultancy, and investment services.
These hubs are a vision realized by the Acts of Gratitude (AOG) social enterprise located in Kigali, Rwanda.
Founded in 2011 by 13 young Rwandans, the organization has supported 155 social enterprises, 176 social entrepreneurs and created jobs for 658 young people and 390 women. To date, approximately 133,326persons have been impacted by work led by the organization’s co-founder and CEO, Jean d’Amour Mutoni, and his team.
AOG was registered with the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) as a National Non-governmental Organization (NGO) in 2014 and with the Rwanda Development Board as a Social Enterprise in 2020. With the vision that ‘By 2030, Rwanda’s Most Successful Person will be a Young Social Entrepreneur’, AOG’s goal is to build a community of 10,000 social entrepreneurs in Rwanda by establishing 30 hubs across the country. The team also set their vision on launching one international office by 2030.
One year after its official operation, the organization received an award from Her Majesty The Queen and investment from His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda in 2015. With this high-level support, AOG focused its programs on social enterprise development and women empowerment in the country. With this high-level support, AOG focused its programs on social enterprise development and women empowerment in the country.
Now, 10 years later, AOG’s focus has tackled youth unemployment and positioned young leaders across Rwanda to solve social challenges in their local communities. Most recently, the organization was honoured by H.E Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda through the ‘Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA)’ award.
With changing times, the organization has found it important to gain support from organizations like QCT to elevate its reach and expand its impact.
“AOG Rwanda was recently able to support 176 changemakers through the Ingenzi Social Enterprise Program. We did this in partnership with QCT and Unloc. We were also able to introduce a new collaborative consultancy service whereby eight social enterprises are contracted as collaborative consultancy clients”.
“One of the barriers we faced was reaching people living in rural areas of the country who had little access compared to those who lived in the city. Through QCT’s support, we were able to deliver training online and allow young people of all locations/backgrounds to join the programs without barriers of any kind.” – Jean d’Amour Mutoni.
Stories on the Ground The inspiring impact of the organization’s work and partnerships is best seen in the everyday services of young Rwandans in their communities.
Nina Nyirampeta, who attended the QCT-funded Ingenzi Social Enterprise Program has employed more than 80 farmers and started making exports to Europe and Asia. She was celebrated on National Television in August 2021 due to her impact on the local community. Her idea was shared with her cohort in the training organized by AOG. Two days after the training, she took the information that she received and partnered with farmers in her hometown.
Another graduate of the program, Claudine Niyonzima, co-founder of SANTech, now makes E-Visitors machines that record and keep visitors’ information for client institutions. With this venture, Claudine and her co-founder have hired more than 10 people with families.
Beathe Siborurema, CEO and Founder of SIBO-Engineering is also another young leader who has pivoted her career because of the exposure and training she would have received from AOG. Beathe was the winner of AOG’s second FRW1 million ($1,000) Pitch Deck Competition and her social enterprise recycles waste products into decoration/construction products.
Future Focused Presently, Jean d’Amour Mutoni is pursuing a Ph.D. at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, and even with his studies, his focus on the expansion of AOG’s impact is one of his main priorities.
“AOG’s future lies in the creation of a network of practicing social entrepreneurs who are creating impact in their communities. We are looking forward to contributing to at least 1% of the country’s employment by 2030. On our way to that goal, we will continue to support and inspire young leaders to use the talents they have within themselves to solve key social challenges in their communities. After all, they are the change the world needs to be a better place. We are the change the world needs to be a better place,” – Jean d’Amour Mutoni.