Discover the stories of these amazing students & entrepreneurs
20 year old entrepreneur supplies 120 homes a day with clean water
When Yvette’s family moved to Rwanda’s Eastern Province, they didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to find clean water in their new community. This isn’t an uncommon story: Nearly 68% of households in Eastern Rwanda lack access to potable water. Faced with a challenge, Yvette developed a solution: IRIBA Clean Water Delivery. She envisioned water from a nearby lake treated with an ultraviolet purifier, filled into jerry-cans, and distributed to households via bike delivery.
As a 20-year old entrepreneur and full-time student, she joined the Accelerate Academy to kick-start her dream. Through the world-class training and financial investment from the Accelerate Academy, Yvette now employs 19 bike couriers and supplies clean water to 120 homes per day, in addition to the 45,000 liters sold daily at water kiosks. Yvette is on track to reach her goal of serving 300,000 people every day throughout Rwanda. Wow!
Dream internship with Amazon
In the summer of 2015, Jeanne d’Arc graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering from the National University of Rwanda. That same summer, she went to California for an internship with Lab126, the manufacturer of Amazon’s innovative Kindle tablet.
When she returned to Rwanda she began to work towards her vision to create a mobile bus ticket app. After being accepted as a fellow in the 2015-16 cohort of the Accelerate Academy. Jeanne d’Arc is now partnering with international investors to further develop her app!
Law student hired by Cape Town firm
Growing up in a crime-riddled Johannesburg neighborhood, Jaime’-Lee saw her mother stand up to support other women in their community. Inspired by her mother’s example, Jaime’-Lee set out to study law at University of Western Cape with a dream of becoming a human rights attorney. Jaime’-Lee will complete her studies in March 2015 and has been hired by a law firm in Cape Town!
An aids orphan changing a culture of poverty
Busisiwe is from the first cohort of These Numbers Have Faces graduates in South Africa and she has set the bar high! After losing her mother to HIV/AIDS, and her sister to gang violence, Busisiwe dreamed of creating a life to rise outside of the poverty she was surrounded by. After four years at University of Western Cape and leadership trainings by These Numbers Have Faces, Busisiwe graduated with a degree in business and is now a Caseware Support Consultant at CQS Technologies, one of South Africa’s leading tech companies. Busisiwe was also a contestant on The Voice: South Africa in 2016! Busisiwe is using her voice and her platform to inspire girls across Africa to become the leaders they were born to be.
business degree, new job with Samsung
As the only daughter in a family of 5 children, Scovia’s track seemed geared toward marriage, rather than education. Even though it went against her community's norms for women, Scovia advocated for herself, unwilling to give up her dream of going to University.
Scovia graduated with a business degree in December 2016 and currently works at Samsung! More so than her accomplishments (and there are many), Scovia’s is a role model to young women in East Africa. What a trailblazer!
“Going to University helped me to believe in myself, that I can do something more important to my family, my country, and the world at large, which I didn’t think I could do before. Learning about leadership has also improved my confidence. Now I can stand in front of people and talk about myself, which I wouldn’t have done before, as most Rwandan women don’t do that. Now, I know my voice.”
From Eastern Cape to a Cheveron internship
Duma grew up in Eastern Cape where he spent his childhood working hard to support his family. With the help of a Leadership Loan from These Numbers Have Faces, Duma studied chemistry at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In his 3rd year, he was selected for a highly competitive petroleum engineer internship with Chevron and was also the lead organizer of ending violent crimes against women in his hometown. Duma is currently finishing a Masters Degree in Chemistry.
entrepreneur to improve health and sanitation
Ntshembo is a talented young man with a massive vision for South Africa. An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, he started a building company called Risuna Business Enterprise from his dorm room at the University of the Western Cape! After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science in 2016, Ntshembo is using his computer skills to further grow Risuna. His current projects include a library, sports facilities, and an IT venture soon to follow.
Ntshembo’s goals are to continue adding more engineering facets to Risuna, expand his office space, and have 30 full-time employees. While he’s one of the youngest entrepreneurs in his field, Ntshembo’s found it’s given him a platform to talk with students about the importance of continuing their education and fueling their passions into entrepreneurial ventures.
Congolese refugee interns with financial firm
Kamali was just a small child when his family fled their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to a violent civil war. They found safety in a refugee camp in Northern Rwanda, where they have lived for the last 20 years. From the beginning Kamali was a top-performing student. His vision has always been to run his own small business and create a healthy environment for people in his community.
After graduating from the School of Finance and Banking in Rwanda in summer 2015, Kamali spent three months in Portland, Oregon for an internship with Delap, an accounting and financial advisory firm. When he returned to Rwanda, Kamali was soon hired as a paid intern with the Ministry of Finance. A few months later, he was hired by a private insurance company! Kamali’s salary is 27 times what his parents make in the refugee camp, providing him enough to help pay for his younger brother to go to school.
Biotech graduate lands job that delivers medical supplies with drones
Collins has always dreamed big, which fueled him to graduate with a degree in Biotechnology in summer 2015. A year later, he was hired by Zipline, a company which uses drones to supply medical supplies and samples to hospitals in developing countries. In Zipline Rwanda, Collins is working as health operator where he gives training to lab techs in hospitals, and prepares and receives blood donations.
“The thing I like most about my job is that we are saving people's lives. Many people die in hospitals just because they can't get enough blood supply. Being part of a team that will save people’s lives makes me love my job so much.”
from selling avocados to IT startup
As a child growing up in rural Rwanda, Fredbos was so determined to learn he would sell avocados from his grandmother's tree for pages of books. Teaching himself how to read helped him to discover things about the world outside his village.His persistence and curiosity paid off, leading him to one of the best high schools in Kigali, and eventually to University as one of our scholars studying IT.
Fredbos graduated from Kigali Independent University in December 2016 and was hired as a customer support engineer at an IT startup! He also does translating work for Kula Project, a nonprofit that invests in women-led businesses in Rwanda, and has started his own association to advocate for children in villages who want to pursue their education.
mental health is brought to the forefront in Eastern Africa
Growing up, Eddyne’s friends knew they could trust her and turn to her for advice. Their belief in her inspired her to study Psychology. After graduating in the summer of 2015, she was hired as a social worker and counselor to more than 150 children in a village community in rural Rwanda!
Eddyne has also been asked to speak about mental health on a Rwandan radio station, taking questions and covering topics like trauma, PTSD, depression, and mourning. In 2017 Eddyne will be traveling to Djibouti to help launch a new counseling center there!
filling a creative design gap in rwanda
Frank grew up Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Raised by his mom, she expected nothing less than her son’s best, both at school and at home. Her daily assignments for Frank taught him about responsibility and problem solving, creativity and determination.
Frank’s passions have always been film and graphic design. As Frank began to learn about gaps in Rwanda’s creative industry, he decided to choose an entrepreneurial track and start his own business, Gravity Rwanda. Before Frank was an Accelerate Academy fellow, he said “it was like having a cloth tied over my eyes, walking in the world of my business but having no idea of all the opportunities and possibilities around me.”
Since the Accelerate Academy, Frank’s network, sales and strategies have grown. “My business moved from just being a business to the journey of something greater. Gravity Rwanda is at the foundation of creativity, innovation and self reliance for Rwandan young creatives. Beyond serving our clients, we also empower the younger generation by providing a space to learn. I truly believe that this small nation needs young people who are willing to dream, and pursue their dreams -- Gravity Rwanda is a way to building a sustainable society.”
"Not just making money, but building my future!"
As a child in Kigali, the respect Claudien’s community had for his parents made him want to be just like them: dependable, generous and determined to do good. With a passion for design, Claudien decided to partner with his friends who have backgrounds in business and marketing to start their own custom-furniture business - Kigali Doors!
Before the Accelerate Academy, Claudien said his business was “just a place to spend time and make money.” After trainings, mentoring and networking from the Academy, he now describes his business as “the roots of my future.” In addition to making furniture, Claudien and his partners have started another arm of their business, which provides property maintenance and repair services. “I want to become a business leader, strategist and entrepreneurship coach so that I can impact as many other young leaders as I can.”
growing a chicken business
Born and raised in Rwanda, Fabiola dreamed of growing up to become part of the solution to hardships her community faced. After watching a friend start his own broiler chicken business, he encouraged Fabiola to think of starting her own. And she did! Before Fabiola was a fellow in the Accelerate Academy, she felt she lacked business management skills, and struggled to get through her business pitch at the Academy’s initial Summit. A year later, Fabiola speaks with confidence when talking about her company, Chicken Queen Ltd.! On top of growing her business from 5,000 to 15,000 chickens over the next three years, Fabiola has hired two additional employees, and purchased a mill to make her own chicken feed.
Scovia has an unlikely story compared to most women in her community -- she went to University, graduated with a degree in IT and even got a job straight out of school. Taking it one step further, Scovia started her own business, LALA Egg Farm. Through the Accelerate Academy, she honed in on skills to help her succeed -- managing cash flow, writing a business plan, customer service and marketing. At the Accelerate Pitch Finale in May 2016, Scovia was offered a loan from from an international investor! With this loan, Scovia’s goal is to triple her business’ growth over the next three years -- numbers she is well on her way to hitting.
Phumza grew up in the Eastern Cape and was raised by a single mother. In 2007, she moved to a township community outside of Cape Town and in her high school she was active in debate club, the science expo, and peer education programs. In 2016, Phumza graduated with a degree in Analytical Chemistry! Her next step is studying for her B-tech in Chemistry. Phumza’s vision is to help create "cutting edge technology through science to meet the needs of the African continent."
First in family to attend college, land job
Omphile is from the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa but traveled all the way to Cape Town to study Medical Bioscience at the University of the Western Cape. The first in his family to attend university, he faced a lot of pressure to provide for his family back home. But he has succeeded! After graduation, Omphile received a job with the Department of Health as a Forensic Pathology Officer.
Township orphan to a career at Metropolitan Health
Zintathu is one of These Numbers Have Faces first South African graduates. After losing both her parents, she was raised in a shack by her grandmother in one of Cape Town’s most notorious townships. Despite her hardship, she excelled in university and now works for Metropolitan Health in Johannesburg.