Read Our COVID-19 response

Read More

GEM/Kepler graduate and entrepreneur Yvette Ishimwe turns Rwanda’s water challenge into a social entrepreneurship opportunity

More than 2 billion people around the world lack access to clean driving water. Yvette Ishimwe is a 22-year-old entrepreneur and a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Education Movement (GEM) Program, in partnership with Kepler. Yvette has turned Rwanda’s water challenge into a business opportunity to benefit the poor. Her team of workers delivers cans of clean water by bicycle to hundreds of families in her community, and her customers continue to grow.

Even the Queen of England is impressed with this young Rwandan’s water business

When Yvette was a teenager, her family moved to a region of Rwanda’s countryside where clean water was in short supply. Poor families would go to dirty swamps to gather water, putting their families at risk of disease. Yvette thought there must be a safer, more affordable way to provide her community with water.

At 19, while still a college student, Yvette started experimenting with treating nearby lake water with an ultraviolet water purifier. At first, she supplied the clean water to her family and then she then started selling it to her neighbors—at a fraction of the price of bottled water. As word spread, demand for her water grew and she established her company, the Iriba Water Group.

Yvette’s team of workers deliver cans of clean water by bicycle to hundreds of families in her community and her customers continue to grow. Last year, her work caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth II, who named Yvette one of her young leader award winners for the impact her work has had on her community. Yvette traveled to London for a ceremony in Buckingham Palace, where the Queen gave her a medal for her achievements.

More than 2 billion people around the world lack access to clean drinking water. Now Yvette has set her sights on reaching more of them by marketing water purification systems beyond Rwanda so more people will have the tools they need to have access to safe, clean water.

Learn about other young Africans who are helping to shape the continent’s future.