With support from the USAID-funded Turi Kumwe project, Berchmas Ntakiyiruta and Mechack Niyomwungere, two young men from Kinyinya commune in Burundi’s Ruyigi province, have gone from jobless youth to business owners creating jobs within just a few months. They opened a bakery after receiving entrepreneurship training and access to a microloan from JJB-Twiyunge Microfinance, and their business was so successful that they quickly needed to hire help.

Mechack Niyomwungere, Richard Nibitanga, and Berchmas Ntakiyiruta at their bakery, Kinyinya, June 2022.

Neither Ntakiyiruta nor Niyomwungere finished high school because their families could not afford to send them any longer, leaving them with few marketable skills. Both are married. Ntakiyiruta has four children; Niyomwungere has two. To support their families, they tried all sorts of small jobs, moving to the provincial town Ruyigi, to the national capital Gitega, and even to Tanzania. Their lives were filled with uncertainty.

The two young men met last year through a Turi Kumwe-supported Village Savings and Loans Associations program where they received training on how to start their own business, conduct market analysis, and write a business plan. They realized bread was imported from the provincial capital and thought, “Why not create a bakery here in Kinyinya?” They developed their idea and obtained a loan from JJB-Twiyunge microfinance in the amount of approximately $217. With no local competitor, their business soon found success. They used the marketing skills acquired through the Village Savings and Loans Associations program to secure business deals with re-sellers and restaurants.

Ntakiyiruta, Nibitanga and Niyomwungere, Kinyinya, June 2022

“We managed to pay all our loan payments on time. After just two months, we already had a net profit of $116. I can now afford more things for my family. I invested in a pig and a goat, and I even used some funds to start building a small house,” Niyomwungere said. Ntakiyiruta chose to use his share of the profits to buy a small piece of land.

They are not the only youth from Kinyinya who benefitted from the bakery. Early on hired Richard Nibitanga to help with preparing the dough and serving tea. He earned $24 a month, most of which he invested in agricultural inputs to boost his harvest, which will improve his family’s financial situation. Nibitanga said, “I used to have nothing to do, and I spent too much time in the ligala [where youth hang out]. I must admit sometimes we talked about bad things there. Now I am busy with this work. I invest for my family, and I don’t have time for those bad things anymore. I hope that when Berchmas and Mechack finish paying their loan, they can invest profits in growing their business further and hire even more youth.”

The young men had a project to grow their bakery and become wholesalers, but the recent 20 percent increase in the price of flour, combined with the increased cost of fuel, significantly decreased their profit margin. For now, they decided to continue with their bakery and small cafeteria—where they serve tea and milk to customers—until the business environment improves. The young men are proud of their bakery, and to be contributing to the development of their community through employment and paying taxes. They also gained self-confidence. Turi Kumwe aims to improve the economic situation of youth through self-employment, and to give youth a sense of purpose, decreasing the chance that they might engage in violent or other negative behaviors.

Read more about our Turi Kumwe Program

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