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Our Story


The idea of Rungano-Ndota Initiative (RNI) is born out of conversations between Rwandans and Americans on a trip to Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest.


Rwanda Youth Partnership (RYP) first comes together as “Rungano-Ndota Friends” based in Boston, USA, operating through a fiscal agent.

Rungano-Ndota's founding Leadership Team develops program plans and prepares to launch with local officials in Ruhango District.


Rungano-Ndota Initiative launches in Ruhango District in January. 60 youth are participating.  The Initiative is welcomed by Benimpuhwe Organisation, an established Rwandan NGO, that provides a legal home for RNI.

The Honey Cooperative is the first RNI business operating. The Cassava Cooperative develops and launches with support from its members and the  Friends. RNI cooperatives continue to form every year going forward.










“Friends” visit in February and July to support the effort and plan with the RNI team. These visits for collaboration and coaching continue in the years ahead.

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Rungano-Ndota now engages 100 youth.

In August, the "Friends" host an informal delegation of visitors to Rwanda and RNI.  On this visit, RYP and RNI team up to create the RNI Business Bootcamp, teaching business planning to RNI youth.

Recognizing the power and impact of Rungano-Ndota’s work, the Friends become “Rwanda Youth Partnership” (RYP) and begin to formalize the organization and activities.


Rungano-Ndota expands to 150 youth. Program activities continue to expand.


RYP hosts its first formal delegation with visitors from the USA and Uganda.










RYP registers as a legal corporation in Massachusetts and nationally.


RYP hosts a series of fundraising house parties in the Boston area.

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Rungano-Ndota expands to 200 youth – just in time for the Covid-19 pandemic! RYP and RNI collaborate steadily throughout the crisis.

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One major innovation during the pandemic is a new Business Relief Loan Fund to support youth’s personal businesses through the challenges of Covid.  RNI staff coach all 200 youth so they can apply for an interest-free microloan that is 50% grant due to the circumstances.  RYP donors respond to make it possible.

In May RYP and RNI begin co-hosting “Virtual Visits to Rwanda” which engage almost 150 supporters by the end of the year.

In November, RNI and RYP launch an annual virtual event, Umuhuro: 
Celebrating Partnership!” 


RYP receives 501c3 nonprofit status from the US Government and becomes an independent nonprofit organization.

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Working groups develop between RNI staff and RYP volunteers, working on a range of projects, including program development, strategies for monitoring and evaluation, marketing materials, and business planning with new cooperatives.

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“Tofu Fresh” opens, RNI’s newest cooperative, selling tofu and products like tofu samosas and mandazi (donuts) made with soy milk.  Business is strong and the cooperative creates 4 full-time jobs!

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The RNI Loan Fund proves to be a successful pandemic innovation, as 100% of youth follow through successfully with loan repayments. Careful coaching and support from staff keep the relationships strong while youth businesses not only survive the pandemic but also grow!


The Russian attack on Ukraine creates dramatic price inflation. To protect gains made by RNI youth businesses, RNI rolls out a round of Business Support Grants with diligent coaching to guide youth in effective use of the grants to adjust to inflation. Despite the sudden economic pressure, no RNI youth businesses close.

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In June, Rungano Days return after Covid, uniting the entire community of over 200 youth for the first time in years!  

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Also in June, RNI and RYP host our first Leadership Exchange Delegation since 2019, in a reduced format for the end stages of the pandemic.

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In December, RNI holds its first Inkera Celebration: Graduation and Business Expo! With local authorities, RYP visitors, and media coverage in Rwanda, RNI graduates its first group of 73 youth. 

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Graduates announce plans to create Inyenyeri z’uRungano, the Stars of Rungano Alumni Network!

Mushrooms Cooperative opens in time to sell their first crop at the Inkera Business Expo!


RNI Graduates and Staff collaborate to design and launch the Inyenyeri Alumni Network that Graduates have envisioned.

100% of RNI youth businesses continue paying back the Loan Fund. With this success, RNI expands lending to continue after graduation. RYP and donors support extending the supportive loans, and youth businesses continue to grow.  

RNI begins to establish a Board of Directors as a step towards registration as an independent Rwandan NGO.  RYP expands collaboration with incoming RNI Board Members as well as RNI staff.

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