ICS Rwanda the contemporary young professional business consultants cradle
At challenge diversity is opportunity more than difficulty
International Citizen service (ICS), the UK government-funded development programme that brings together 18 to 25-year-old from all backgrounds to fight poverty in Rwandan Communities has already delivered a trustworthy bond between young University business professionals and local business enterprises through 10 weeks training program within one of its agencies “Challenge World Wide”.
In the exclusive interview with Yeejo.rw, Alice Bardrick ICS country program manager explained that they have already conducted three consecutive cycles in the last ten months and they are working on other upcoming projects that will benefit both Rwandan youths and different local businesses as well.
“We have finished three different cycles and as time goes on we are happy that the number of businesses is dramatically increasing. In the first round we worked with 9 businesses and 20 volunteers, second cycle 11 businesses and 28 and the third one 14 businesses and 32 volunteers. The next cycle which is expected to kick off 17th January we will have 17 business and 39 volunteers”.
Alice also added that they are supporting different 8 coffee cooperatives in terms of growing high quality coffee and scaling up the production as well as helping them in terms of exportation to UK. Alice also said that they are working with Oxfarm to support pineapple plantations. Talking about how they select business partners to work with, Bardrick said that they usually consult Rwanda Development Board (RDB) for business selection support.
Volunteers form UK are paired with Rwandan to value diversity and learning experience
Sarah Legrand one of local Business partners from K’tsobe a brand of timeless jewellery, made from a fusion of natural material (seeds, wood, horn) and noble (silver, gold ..) but also brass, bronze, enamel, portrayed how it was very crucial working with ICS volunteers as she can herself measure the improvement mostly on the side of marketing, communication and organizational skills.
“It is very important working with ICS volunteers they have helped us a lot mainly in terms of marketing like how to conduct effective marketing strategy, they have also supported us on communication side as well as organization and preparation. Although we have been doing it previously, they have dramatically supported us to improve it to the next level.”
Tanica Facey 25, the university graduate who served as UK Volunteer portrayed how it was a good experience being a volunteer as it shaped her mind in terms of culture perspective, business experience and other different ways of life.
“It was really good experience because we were working in new environment with diverse culture background. I am sure that these ten weeks were not short to add new ideal business approaches to my previous experience despite the fact that I studied business courses at University. I think that ICS is doing great and I can highly urge other young people who are eligible to join the program”.
At CWW team spirit increases joy at work
Channel Mwizawase a young graduate from IPRC Kigali who severed as local volunteer and studied biomedical engineering affirmed that the program is beneficial to both volunteers and business partners and all lead to development.
“We worked as business support associates where we were mostly in charge of making business analysis, knowing different information about the business, delivering recommendations as well as implementation processes. It was beneficial to us because we got some skills that we did not have before as most of us did not get extensive experience in business relate courses at university. We even got different cultural background working experiences. On the other side, businesses also gained from us because they got free workers as they did not spend money on them”.
Francis Mugabukenga a final year Kepler student who served as local volunteer in the last entire 10 weeks revealed how beneficial the program was and how he is now able to measure the changes.
“We have really learned a lot in this program. First of all, diversity, because participants held different culture backgrounds, and for some of us it was new experience. It was a learning opportunity as we got enough skills in terms of business developing and it increased our competitiveness towards workplace required competencies. We also increased our communication skills and language fluency as we used only English as main language throughout the whole program”.
On the side of measuring the impact of the program and selection process Armel Mugenzi ICS project coordinator revealed different tools they use in assessing program impact and based on the previous outcomes, their performances outdid the expectations which shows promising success towards other upcoming projects.
“We actually conduct enterprises surveys to see if our volunteers are really showing tremendous contribution in our business partners. We do this because we need tangible evidences. We also conduct our own assessment on volunteers through different tasks we give them and deliverable they submit. Our exceptional learning model can even be seen through the selection tests that we conduct on our assessment day as it is not normal one on one interview session, but distinct group work assessment plus self-analysis performance”.
ICS is an overseas volunteering programme for 18-25 year olds (23-35 for Team Leaders), funded by the UK Government. It brings together young people from the UK and developing countries to volunteer in some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America through its different agencies International Service: Challenges Worldwide, Lattitude Progressio, Raleigh International, Restless Development, Skill share International, Tearfund and VSO.
Particularly, one of its agencies founded in 1999 Challenges Worldwide, is a recognized global development charity and started operating in Rwanda early February this year. Its vision is a world without poverty relies upon ongoing sustainability and catalyzing socio-economic growth in emerging economies through delivering support to SMEs. For more additional info, you can log on www.challeneworldwide.org