iRebero Smart Community: Driving Employability and Self-Sufficiency through an ICT Ecosystem Model

Project page

Result follow-up iRebero Smart Community

This project is being implemented by Sangwa Job Training Centre in the northern province of Gicumbi district in Rwanda. Agriculture is Rwanda’s mainstay economic activity,  and it is in this sector that the centre’s unemployed youth and widows work to earn daily sustenance. The youth (Rwanda’s definition is people aged 18-30 years) and widows are often exploited, underpaid, and generally face social insecurity by not having a secure daily livelihood.

Sangwa focused on vocational skills within the agricultural sector, specifically livestock farming of pigs. Rwanda has seen a rising consumption of pork that has increased the returns for pig farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture is keen to industrialise pork production, lower domestic meat prices and encourage exports and foreign earnings.

The iRebero Smart community, focuses on lifelong learning, and employability skills training, through a comprehensive value chain in pig farming. The different clusters identified by Sangwa job training centre in this value chain would all be supported through ICT based capacity building. The value chain is comprehensive, from feed production to veterinary services, the project participants were trained in these skills forming a community that is self-sufficient in the production of pork.

The research supporting the project implementation, commenced with a baseline study that sought to understand the socioeconomic background of the youth and widows as well as their capacity needs. The survey asked 8 widows, 2 widowers, 75 youth (40 females and 35 males) what they identified as the most urgent needs and found that an entrepreneurial spirit was generally lacking. The research found that training in technical and financial capacities was urgently needed, as well as ideas on how the project beneficiaries could formulate project enterprises. In addition, the 85 participants noted that they need training in microfinance to make the savings and credits association sustainable.

Project participants were trained to rear pigs, and the training drew on the value chain as shown in the figure. This meant that participants were divided into clusters where one was trained to manufacture feed for pigs, another was taught how to slaughter and process pork, while a third cluster learned the selling and marketing strategies for pork and other products, etcetera. This value chain was supported by the ICT ecosystem where a farm management system for pig farming, pork processing and entrepreneurship was developed. In this process, ICT training sessions tailored to each cluster as illustrated in the iRebero model, were provided for the project beneficiaries.

Along the training period, 22 of the youth left the project, and went back to school, to improve the digital skills they had acquired from the project. As an unintended consequence, ICT opened up a world of digital opportunities for these youths.

The research also supported the project by creating a 5 year business plan with the goal to the expand nationally and continue sustaining the gains acquired. As noted in the baseline, pigs are reared by individual farmers or grouped farmers in the rural areas, and the government of Rwanda is invested in the industrialization of the pork production processes. Sangwa job training centre are pioneers in this regard as they prepare Gicumbi to create a farming community that is organized in interlinking clusters of production.

The business plan evaluated the market environment for pork in Kigali to establish points of sell in the city as part of the expansion plan. It also identified expertise required by Sangwa to manage the expansion as well as the following:

  • Need for maintenance technicians to manage and maintain the equipment
  • Accountants
  • Quality assurance managers
  • Security guards, especially to keep the imported equipment secure

The market analysis identified some of the challenges in commercializing pork and these challenges are also experienced by Sangwa. As part of the expansion plan, Sangwa must also consider the following gaps:

  • Slaughtering and processing levels
  • Inadequate or limited equipment such as refrigerator transportation vehicles
  • Acquisition of pig feed, which also had an effect on the eventual price of pork meat. This is addressed within the project by training one of the clusters to produce pig feed.

The project continues to empower widows and youth with crucial skills in a sector that dominates livelihood security for Rwandans.

See the project

This video brings you to the iRebero project. Dr Evode Mukama , who is the  the project leader talks about the project.