Rwandan youth turn to bamboo business with Chinese mentorship

By Xinhua
On 17 January 2022 at 10:44

A growing number of Rwandan youth have turned to bamboo furniture making and weaving business after skills training by Chinese bamboo experts in a bid to tackle youth unemployment challenges in Rwanda, a landlocked country in east-central Africa.

The bamboo processing (furniture making and weaving) training center is located in Masaka Incubation Business Center, in Masaka sector, Kicukiro district of Kigali, the Rwandan capital, where the young people have witnessed the processing of bamboo products.

Chinese experts of the China-Aid Rwanda Bamboo Team have been undertaking training projects about bamboo cultivation, processing and utilization in Rwanda since 2009.

"The Chinese experts introduced bamboo cultivation and processing in our country. They supported us with bamboo processing equipment and trained us on how to cultivate bamboo, harvest it and process it into final products for home use such as furniture, baskets, lamp holders, decorations, toothpicks and among others," Irenee Gumyushime, one of the students at the center, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

He said that bamboo processing has enabled him and his colleagues to acquire the necessary skills and expertise to be self-employed which is a key factor in reducing youth unemployment in the country.

"The Chinese experts taught us bamboo processing skills and I am now an expert in furniture making. I am also a trainer at the center. I thank the Chinese experts for their efforts in making our lives better through this training," said Gumyushime.

He pointed out that they are now facing a challenge of getting new equipment for bamboo processing, because the existing equipment is old and worn-out, saying that the China-Aid Rwanda which has been supporting them has since phased out.

Gumyushime said that there are 20 students at the center engaged in bamboo processing and among those, nine are women.

According to him, students at the center are capable of producing various types of furniture for home and office, or other areas and there is already a market for bamboo products in Rwanda.

"From bamboo processing, I am able to earn income to sustain my livelihood and at the same time I am saving the environment," said Gumyushime.

Jean de Dieu Niyonkuru, another student at the center, told Xinhua that he specializes in bamboo furniture making after learning from Chinese bamboo processing experts.

"I joined this center in 2015 where I was trained by the Chinese experts in bamboo processing for a period of six months. I also spent another three months on hands-on training while receiving mentorship support from the Chinese," said Niyonkuru.

"The Chinese also offered me an opportunity to go to China to get further training on bamboo processing. I am now doing very well. There is good business in bamboo products."

Niyonkuru attributes all his success in bamboo furniture making to great expertise training by the Chinese experts.

"All my home furniture, arts and crafts are made in bamboo because I have a great passion for bamboo products. My livelihood depends on bamboo processing. I thank the Chinese for supporting me and my colleagues to improve our livelihoods through bamboo processing," said Niyonkuru.

Speaking to Xinhua, Yu Qinhong, a Chinese expert at the center, said that he has trained Rwandan students at the center on how to make quality products from bamboo to attract more customers.

"Rwanda is suitable for developing the bamboo industry. They have bamboo raw materials and a large population of young people and Rwandans like the bamboo products," said Yu.

Yu reckoned that Rwanda’s dry climate is favorable for bamboo furniture, which keeps the mold away from the bamboo furniture.

"I am happy to see the fruit of China-aid work that the bamboo production and weaving develop into an industry which allows more young people to earn money."

Bamboo processing is believed to be among businesses helping to tackle joblessness. Net Photo