Because our own political situation is so often frustrating, I try to find good causes to bring to your attention, the sort of thing where a few bucks will make a real difference. I think it’s important that we not fall into thinking our efforts are useless.
So I thought some of you might be interested in this:
April 6, 2010, New York— Rwanda is a nation led by women. Women comprise 55% of the country’s workforce, own roughly 40% of businesses and head 1/3 of all households. This gender gap is one effect of the Rwandan Genocide, which began 16 years ago tomorrow on April 7, 1994.
Throughout Rwanda’s rebuilding process, it is the women who have taken the charge. “Rwanda’s economy has risen up from the genocide and prospered greatly on the backs of our women…Bringing women out of the home and fields has been essential to our rebuilding. In that process, Rwanda has changed forever…We are becoming a nation that understands that there are huge financial benefits to equality.” –Agnes Matilda Kalibata, Rwanda Minister Agriculture.
As Rwandan women advance in the workforce, their time is increasingly divided between traditional homemaking duties and their new business obligations. One young Rwandan male entrepreneur recognizes both the vital role these women play and the challenges they face in balancing these responsibilities. Hervé Debarego’s dream is to support these women with his own new business and a U.S. non-profit organization is helping him raise the seed capital he needs.
Hervé is one of six finalists in the Bpeace (Business Council for Peace) Race to Innovation, where Rwanda and Afghan entrepreneurs are vying for seed capital. His business idea is a fresh produce delivery service. Beyond the obvious convenience, Hervé’s delivery service will create a significant change in Kigali (Rwanda’s capital city), providing stable paying jobs to women who currently sell fruit in the streets. In addition, women utilizing his services will no longer spend hours in the markets shopping for the freshest and least expensive foods; allowing them more time after work to be at home with their families.
Every urban American can relate to the timesaving benefits of fresh food delivered right to their doorstep. In a country like Rwanda where 22% of households are food insecure and over 50% of children are chronically malnourished, increasing access to inexpensive, fresh nutrition is more than a luxury–it is a life-saving initiative. And providing sustainable employment to Rwanda female street vendors is doubly so.
By providing sustainable employment to women, Hervé will be empowering the gender proven to most likely reinvest their earnings in family, community and business development. By empowering Hervé’s business through the Race to Innovation, online voters will be empowering Rwanda’s women.
Online voting is the final chapter in Bpeace’s Race to Innovation. Through their “$15 is a Vote for Hope” campaign, Bpeace hopes to raise $10,000 in seed or expansion capital for each of the six finalists. The winner will additionally receive a trip to the U.S. to meet with experts in their industry.
To vote for Hervé visit bpeace.org/vote where you can also watch his pitch video and read a brief commentary by his Bpeace pro-bono business adviser, Teri Leavens, business development associate, Weber Shandwick.