Published on Nasikiliza

Blog4Dev Burundi: New mentality, new growth!

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Photo: Sarah Farhat/World Bank

“To succeed in life, you have to study hard and obtain your diploma with honors so that you can eventually land a high-paying job,” is what my father would tell me constantly. As a young girl, everything was clear to me: a diploma with honors would automatically land me a job with a salary as high as Bill Gates’s.

Although the idea of extensive studying seemed tedious to me, I was convinced that the outcome would be worth it. But with age and experience, I’ve witnessed a completely different reality. It isn’t enough to get high marks to get a good job. The proof: in my country, although the completion rate in schools is improving, the unemployment rate continues to grow. This made me ask a lot of questions, and the response is, in fact, quite simple: we have to change our mentality!

The world in which we live is perpetually changing; therefore, we must continually adapt to the current century, the latest innovation. Today, the traditional workplace is saturated. It is therefore time to change our approach and evolve from the status of “jobseeker” to “job creator.”

After all, isn’t creating jobs one of the best ways to boost jobs? And to do this, are we not obligated, as young people, to change the way things are seen? In fact, the challenges facing my country could be transformed into an opportunity to change the development strategy. Unfortunately, instead, we tend to want to resolve problems by complaining. We must stop! Rather, let us try to transform the challenges facing Burundi into business opportunities that will help considerably reduce unemployment.

Révérien Niyonkuru, a 26-year-old young man from the Bubanza province, clearly understood this. After completing his university studies, he found himself unemployed, but he did not give up.  The problem of malnutrition in Burundi gave him the idea for an entrepreneurial opportunity and he decided to start producing a nutritious flour made with eight ingredients: green bananas, corn, soya, [wheat], rice, sorghum, peanuts, and sesame. The undertaking was not easy, but little by little, his hard work and tenacity paid off. Today, Révérien heads a small business that employs nine people.

According to a French proverb, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” So, let us analyze the problems in Burundi: a predominantly young and rural population, a severe rural exodus of young people searching for jobs, but also a high illiteracy rate and an alarmingly high unemployment rate of 65%.

To remedy this, agriculture seems to me to be the primary solution. The agricultural sector requires a substantial workforce that is strong and energetic, qualities that are intrinsic to youth. Moreover, when conditions are favorable, it is a sector in which the yield can surpass the small investment, especially with subsistence crops. Furthermore, increased agricultural production can give rise to many processing plants, which would not only help reduce unemployment, but also develop the country.

So, to answer your question, how would you boost job opportunities for young people in Burundi? Let us invest in changing their mentality!


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