Young entrepreneurs in Burundi

From 29 January to 12 February 2018, I carried out a mission to Burundi for RET - Refugee Education Trust - an NGO based in Geneva. RET specialises in the education of young refugees. Its motto is "Protecting through education".

Political instability took a deadly turn in Burundi from 2015, when the President of the Republic announced that he would run for a third term (normally the President of the Republic is elected for a single renewable term once). Street demonstrations degenerated into extremely violent fighting and hundreds of thousands fled to neighbouring Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some refugees are returning to the country, but the population is facing a humanitarian crisis that is compounded by economic recession, extreme food insecurity and a malaria epidemic.


RET tries to respond to this situation by helping young Burundians to set up microenterprises to become financially independent. My mission consisted in training Burundian trainers capable of accompanying and guiding young people in the creation of microenterprises.


Since 2008, I have developed active and cooperative methods for this type of training and I have successfully tested them in Egypt, Haiti, Chad, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and... Burundi. I have written a manual for training young people to start small businesses that I update at each of my missions.


First I train a group of trainers for five days, then I accompany them in the field in the animation of training courses for young people. This allows me to see how they cope in real situations and then to correct their mistakes and improve their skills in a coaching process in order to enable them to implement active training methods such as case studies, team projects, role-playing games, simulation games, etc...



Young refugees only dream of one thing: settling in their country, finding a job or starting a small business in order to live normally and start a family. They are eager to learn and to stay in their country to participate in its development.

Europeans currently experiencing a crisis of collective hysteria over immigration and refugees should pay a little more attention to the root causes of migration (of which they receive only a tiny part) and mobilise more energy and resources to help African countries in difficulty. The migration crisis is merely a reflection of the selfishness of European countries, which for many years have refused to increase aid for cooperation to help African countries out of the slump. The only remedy is the security and development of African countries. 


Dominique Bénard

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