January 20, 2016

Making College Count in Burundi

On the morning of the 17th November 2015, queues began to form outside the Burundian youth’s job fair. This event, organized by SPARK Burundi and local partner UMUCE, was one of the first of its kind. The job fair was a truly welcomed event as it was filled with bright eyed job seekers eager to kick-start their careers.

The grand opening of the fair greeted 128 students and recent graduates to the morning CV and interview workshop held by well-known business consultant, Ajax Konsult. Following this, the participants immediately applied these new skills in one-on-one mock consultation meetings with Human Resource Managers from seven established enterprises. Yet these interviews proved not to be solely a gimmick, as 20 lucky students secured internships!

The second day focused on the national employment policy; the participants shared their recommendations on how the national office of employment (OBEM) could further address the pressing socioeconomic issues. One Burundian youth outlined that: “Finding a job is like looking for a needle in haystack.” Some suggestions made were: specialised training courses, internship/volunteering opportunities, improved communication between youth and decision makers and more transparent recruitment procedures. A young Burundian graduate explains:

“When [jobs] are available, they remain insufficient and sometimes out of reach for a young graduate. The employer wants at least five years’ experience”

On the final day of the job fair, 105 student entrepreneurs were exposed to both the opportunities and the major challenges which await them in the labour market. The support and guidance, such as business services, were presented by the Agricultural Business Incubation Network team, the Burundi Business Incubator, Impact Hub, the Burundi Social Business lab and the Burundi Investment promotion Authority (API). The event closed with a celebration, where the hard-working students networked, danced, and loosened up a little!

SPARK’s Programme Officer, Elysé Ndayihimbaze, summed up the event in one sentence: “who says you can’t enjoy life in the midst of a storm”. Whilst Burundi’s societal stability is in turmoil, being described as being ‘on the brink of another genocide’, Elysé’s summary illustrates that, no matter the circumstances which people find themselves in, that it is possible to do something constructive. Furthermore, people shouldn’t be discouraged by their surroundings, but instead they can live life in a way which encourages their peers to keep advocating for improvements in society.

This event was held part of SPARK’s Youth Engagement Programme which engages young and ambitious men and women, and makes them part of the process towards creating stability and enduring peace in post-conflict societies.

Burundian Job Fair