Labour Day: Youth get new lease on life through employment by Gatsibo-based shoe making factory

By Elias Hakizimana.

As the International Workers’ Day also known as Labour Day is being celebrated today, May 1, 2019, young people including some who dropped out of school in Gatsibo District, and elsewhere in the country, have gained professional and practical training thanks to the support of the leather product community processing center (CPC) located in Kabarore Sector.

Dubbed “Star Leather/CPC”, the centre, which has a leather processing factory, also employs the youths after training them.

Most of these young people who spoke to The Inspirer experienced hurdles in their families relating to deprivation that also made them drop out of schools.

Jovia Kanoheri, now a trainer and senior employee started with the centre in 2014 as a trainee.

After her father passed away in 2013, she struggled to raise younger brothers and sisters with only the help of the mother, who was faced with abject poverty.

“I dropped out from primary six so as to help my mother raise children after my father died. I had to assume combined duties as I had to bridge the gap of our father’s role as a man in the family,” she said. 

Jovia Kanoheri/ Photo by Elias Hakizimana.

She got to know about CPC star leather community processing centre and joined it.

In at least five years working with the Centre, she has achieved a lot in terms of building her resilience to poverty. She has been earning Rwf170,000 monthly salary and has managed to build a descent residential house for her family and pays school fees for her brothers and sisters.

Celestin Kwizera’s education journey stopped a couple of years ago, while he was in primary five, owing to experienced hardship. His hope to carry on studies was shattered then.  

Fortunately, he started leather processing courses under the auspices of the Gatsibo CPC in March 2019. Only after two months of the training, the resident of Simbwa Cell, Kabarore Sector in Gatsibo could produce shoes of different styles. 

Celestin Kwizera/ Photo by Elias Hakizimana.

The factory currently provides four month-training to the students and then employ them.

He expects having full package of practical skills to produce shoes.

“I will be able to make shoes and create a job, now I can make women and children shoes and I will be able to employ other people and pay taxes as giving back to the country.

Fionah Umugabekazi, 23, also started the training in March 2019. She believes she will be able to have income from shoe making. She joined the factory after dropping out from senior five of secondary school due to financial constraints facing her parents.

“Our country needs more shoes produced locally in line with the Made in Rwanda programme. After these practical skills, I will strive for self-reliance by investing in shoe making to tackle the challenge of second hand shoes,” she said.  

Fionah Umugabekazi/photo by Elias Hakizimana.

She advises youth who ignore vocational training to also try embrace such lessons to plan for their future live.

“We cannot all be employed by the public sector in office duties, vocational skills are good and easy to practice for income generation.

Guillaume Ishimwe, the theoretical trainer of students at CPC told the inspirer that there is a hope that the students will perform in shoe making as they can produce some kinds of shoes in only two months ago.

Guillaume Ishimwe/Photo by Elias Hakizimana

After theoretical training, the students continue in production house to start making shoes until they become experts. It is expected that they will finish the whole package of training in June 2019.

Elie Byiringiro, 24, a senior employee of CPC left Nyagatare district in 2017 to start having lessons in CPC and has built his resilience after being employed by the factory. He said that his pay helps him to afford the basic needs.

“I managed to rent a house, I can buy clothes and afford food because I know to make shoes. I bought a plot and I plan to build my own house.” Byiringiro said.   

Back to Jovia Kanoheri, she advises girls to not depend on office jobs, but to think about self-employment, such as through technical and vocational training and education. She tells jobless girls who graduated from Universities that there is no job which is only a preserve for boys or girls as they can explore all potentials in various vocational jobs.

According to John Mfuranzima, the manager of CPC-Star Leather factory and Community Processing Centre, they now produce 25 pairs of shoes per day from three pairs in a week at the beginning.  

John Mfuranzima, the manager of CPC-Star Leather factory and Community Processing Centre/Photo by Elias Hakizimana.

He said that the inspiration to start a factory was to promote local investment instead of importing shoes.

“We also wanted to encourage youth to have self-employment by equipping them with practical vocational training,” Mfuranzima said.

He lauds efforts by the government of Rwanda to help the Centre run activities by providing equipment and training support to the students.

Challenges of the Centre

“We still have technology based problems which hinders our ability to increase our production. We are still looking for partners to increase the production and we want to move from 25 to 100 pairs of shoes per day basing on the local market demand and we can take them to international market,” Mfuranzima said.

He added that they target to expand the Centre to the capacity of 300 pairs of shoes in future and to be a leading shoe making and seller in the region.  

The Centre employs 25 permanent workers of whom are 12 are women.      

Mfuranzima arranging shoes in shop      
Start Leather shoe store and shop      


An employee at CPC arranging shoes   
A client being served   
CPC/Star Leather factory

Contact the author @theinspirerpubl @philos4hakizi

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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