Claudine is confident, assertive and ambitious. Her successful business is developing peace in her community and offering hope to other young people.
Communities in Burundi face massive challenges. Decades of violent conflict have left people living with trauma and pain. Climate change is having an increasing impact and poverty is widespread. There are huge difficulties for young people. They have low aspirations, few role models and there is high unemployment. As a result, they can be taken advantage of by violent political groups.
We really want to be role models in the community and use all our training to be people that help resolve conflict, inspire our neighbourhoods, and make a positive difference.
During 15 years in Burundi, Cord has developed projects that really work. These include Self Help Groups. Young people are brought together to pool their savings. They share loans which give them the chance to set up small businesses whilst getting training on how to make them a success. They also learn conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills, all the time working with young people from other ethnic groups.
With Cord’s help, Claudine and her colleagues started a business growing potatoes which soon made a profit. They managed to get a large loan from the National Youth Bank and won a national competition. This meant they could rent more land and grow wheat as well as potatoes. A local landowner became aware of their success and tried to exploit them by charging much higher rent for the land. Land disputes in Burundi can often become violent, but Claudine and the other young people were able to resolve this issue peacefully. They worked with the local authorities, using conflict resolution skills they’d learnt during Cord’s project.
Claudine’s group want to set an example for other young people. They want to keep growing their business and dream of becoming regional seed suppliers. They hope to become investors, supporting new business ventures and start-ups.
Following the success of her business and the positive impact on her community, Claudine set up her own training scheme for young entrepreneurs in the surrounding area. She trained 15 people who are now leading groups, each with a new enterprise venture. Amazingly, around 90% of young people in the area are now part of Self Help Groups. Conflict has reduced and young people are working for peace and prosperity for their communities.