How collaborations led to success
The Rubengera Technical Secondary School was founded in 2013 with the aim to help young unemployed people find jobs and have a better and decent life. The school has come a long way since then; initially started with 15 students, the school now has 57 students with 17 girls amongst them.
The Director, Sr. Marie Louise explains that the journey was not easy. In the past, the profession of carpentry was not formalised. Quality production was very rare to find and the carpenters did not have any kind of formal education or training. Hence, the decision to professionalise carpentry and educate young unemployed people to produce innovative and quality products was made. This required changing the mind-set of both parents and students – in particular, to enrol girls in a TVET carpentry school.
Sr. Marie Louise elucidates how RTSS enhanced its reputation in the area of quality education and training through its partnership with the Workforce Development Authorities (WDA) and the Rwandan-German Development Cooperation through the Programme of Economy and Employment Promotion (Eco-Emploi) supported by GIZ. The partnership opened doors to various opportunities that expanded the school’s prospects, especially through the wood sector core-group – a platform for knowledge sharing; discussing ideas on how to improve the wood sector; and creating business linkages. Interestingly, the school used this platform to market their products, especially the rare “dry timber” – a product difficult to find in the local market. RTSS is also reputed for its frequent training of trainers (ToT) and its equipped workshop with good quality ‘made in Rwanda’ products
Sr. Marie Louise also mentioned how the school is always encouraged to participate in a variety of other activities such as fairs and exhibitions supported by Eco-Emploi, the most notable being the German Christmas Market 2017. The market presented a huge opportunity to grow and create linkages with other companies. She describes how the schools participation led to a tremendous impact in terms of learning and sales. “The event was not only a great chance for us to make our products known, but also to expand our market. We were very grateful for the advice we received from the programme. They visited us early on ahead of the event and provided guidance on product development, explaining the types of products that could sell well, so we produced accordingly. We sold all our stock with a return of 600,000 RWF in the two-days’ event and obtained four orders from new customers.” The event also led to RTSS immediately receiving an invitation to participate in the AIC Christmas Bazaar held at the Convention Centre in Kigali. With the experience garnered from the German Christmas Market, the school increased their stock with beautiful portable Christmas items and their sales doubled in the AIC Christmas Bazaar. By the end of the festival season, RTSS registered higher benefits than ever before and the production unit gained more knowledge of market requirements while gathering a remarkable experience.