The young Rwandan is an engineer and entrepreneur who developed a sustainable way to provide struggling communities in Africa with clean water.
She is among three of the remarkable finalists for the award that have dedicated their skills, resources, and time to making the world a better place by working towards achieving the United Nations’ Global Goals and standing up for those who are vulnerable.
Kwizera becomes the first Rwandan winning the prize beating her contestants Suhani Jalota from India and Ryan Gersava from Philippines.
Kwizera was revealed as the winner of the award at the Global Citizen Prize ceremony broadcast and streamed globally on 19th December 2020. Although this year’s ceremony was hosted virtually, it was an incredible affair that celebrated world leaders, business leaders, activists, musicians and artists, young people, and philanthropists from around the globe.
During the broadcast Kwizera was surprised with a call from singer-songwriter, Nick Jonas, who shared the news with the young entrepreneur that she had won this year’s Cisco Youth Leadership Award.
Kwizera was evidently jubilant and shared with Jonas that she was “super super surprised”. She then called in her “work family” to meet Jonas and be part of the exciting moment.
“The work we do, keeping water running for hundreds of thousands, we’re going to scale to millions because we’re tackling a challenge that affects 400 million id. people across Africa and over 2 billion worldwide,” she said.
“In 10 years, this prize being a huge catalyst for this in 10 years we’re going to be servicing 30 million and more; we’re going to create over 13,000 jobs because when we give water, we also create jobs," added Kwizera.
As the winner of this year’s award, Kwizera will receive $250,000 to put forward her social enterprise, Water Access Rwanda.
When she was just 20, Kwizera founded Water Access Rwanda in response to the dangerous conditions that Rwandans would face when collecting water from rivers and dams, including crocodile attacks and disease-ridden water.
The social enterprise aims to eliminate water scarcity and provide communities with safe and easily accessible water. Today they successfully supply over 70,000 people in and around Rwanda with clean water daily.
She told Global Citizen that the work Water Access Rwanda does now is just the beginning.
“Our ambition is much bigger because, as I like to say, the crisis is way bigger than what we’re doing,” she said.
The Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award was established in 2018 to honor and uplift extraordinary young activists who have dedicated themselves to working towards achieving the UN’s Global Goals.
This year’s winner, Christelle Kwizera, works towards providing African communities with clean water, which contributes to the United Nations’ Global Goal 6, to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; and Goal 11 for building sustainable communities.