Inspirational Stories

The students of Authentic Academy, Kigali: establishing best practice in hygiene

As you are no doubt aware, we are living in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic caused by Covid-19. The news is flooded with stories and statistics from all over the world about hospitalisations and countries going into lockdown. Our hearts truly go out to all those affected and we hope that all the measures governments and international organisations are taking come into effect as soon as possible. As an organisation, our absolute priority is to keep both our participants and staff safe. With schools in most of the countries we work in closed, we are working hard to make sure we can still empower young people with the skills they need to succeed in school, work and life.

In difficult times, we know how important solidarity and positivity are to keep morale boosted. Who doesn’t love watching videos of Italians singing at the top of their voices from their balconies? So whilst shops all over the UK and Europe are running out of hand sanitiser and soap because people are stockpiling, we know that many of our young entrepreneurs’ school businesses have one great solution to this...

The school business team at Authentic Academy in Kigali, Rwanda, have been running their impressive business producing and selling liquid soap for over two years. The market for liquid soap in Rwanda must have been pretty hot even before the coronavirus pandemic, as we’ve seen successful student-led liquid soap businesses opening all over the country. Authentic Academy’s headteacher Jean Baptiste gave us an insight into the incredible impact the business is having on the quality of education in their school and beyond:

“The School Enterprise Challenge is impacting our school in three main ways. Academically it shows students how to apply what they learn at school and changes their mindset towards learning. Secondly, it has improved hygiene and sanitation at school because we now use our own product. We were recently recognised by the Ministry of Education as best practice for promoting hygiene! Thirdly, it has had an impact on our school community. At least 80% of our clients are parents, so they get to see that their children are capable. This builds parents’ confidence in their children and in our school”.

The business is completely run and led by a group of students at Authentic Academy and we’re always inspired by our young entrepreneurs’ resilience and optimism. We all know that young people are our future so now more than ever we believe we should follow their lead. If we work together and support each other we can get through this. Despite facing initial challenges, such as how to manage their time and persuade customers that soap produced by students was the high quality they were looking for, the business manager described perseverance and working together was the key to their success. According to Joana, one of the students in the school business team:

"I worked hard and tried my best so my colleagues had faith and voted for me to be Business Manager. It was very hard at the start, but I learnt how to advise my colleagues to have confidence in themselves. That made me happy. Although our business is not perfect, it has reached a level we didn't know it could. We have a big income, making 40,000 Rwandan Francs (USD$42) every month and are keeping most of the money in the business so it grows. Our biggest achievement was winning a $2,000 prize for our annual report! My advice to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur is to work hard and put effort in. With effort you can be perfect!”

We were thrilled to choose Authentic Academy for an award for Best Annual Report, as this is a team that has shown incredible dedication to their business. The only thing left to say is: do they do international deliveries?