Allen Kendunga: Kickstarting Rwandan Careers with Entrepreneurship Training
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hello! My name is Spiffy, I’m an Interplanetary Journalist. Today I’m speaking with an innovator who is working to ensure young people in Rwanda have access to UN SDG 4: Quality Education. Allen Kendunga, founder and CEO of Talent Match, Inc., is providing opportunities for college students to develop entrepreneurial skills through career development programs. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: It’s great to meet you, Allen! I’m excited to learn about the work that your company is doing. Can you tell us what challenges you’re addressing?
Allen: It’s wonderful to meet you too, Spiffy. Talent Match is addressing the problem of the skills gap and youth unemployment through career development programs and entrepreneurship.
Spiffy: What motivated you to focus on career development and entrepreneurship?
Allen: There is a saying that "to whom much is given, much is expected," and I believe I have been given much, so it's high time I gave back. I also strongly believe that the right education and platforms can transform lives. I have seen first hand what young people can do if they are given the tools, information, and support to transform their communities.
Spiffy: Those experiences can definitely provide motivation to pave the way for young people. Can you talk a bit about how Talent Match is working to make the world more equitable?
Allen: You know, Spiffy, for so long, women have been left behind by innovators and Talent Match is committed to supporting more women to kickstart their careers. We design programs tailored to only women and 60% of our fellows are women.
Spiffy: Well done! And what about any recent initiatives that are having a positive impact?
Allen: The most recent milestone was the launch of the Talent Match Entrepreneurship Program that aims to incubate student-run ventures before students graduate, and equip them with entrepreneurship and leadership skills.
Spiffy: I’m always curious how entrepreneurs handle failure. What about you? Can you share about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up?
Allen: While starting Talent Match, I got a lot of rejections for funding and I did not have the money I needed to pilot it. But these rejections helped me develop a tougher skin for rejections and made me even more determined to find a way to start Talent Match. Giving up is never an option for me when it comes to solving a problem in front of me.
Spiffy: Is there something unexpected you’ve learned from someone recently?
Allen: Actually, Spiffy, I recently learned from Lady Gaga's speech at the Oscars that "there is a discipline for passion." It is probably one of the truths that you don't get to hear a lot, but it is so true.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Allen: Young people do have the capacity and drive to create innovative solutions for problems in their communities, they just need that initial support and validation in their journey.
Spiffy: And for that, you are making a huge difference, Allen. Thanks so much for talking to me and sharing your work with the world. It’s been an honor!
Allen Kendunga is the founder and CEO of Talent Match, Inc. a social venture that is working to close the skills gap and reduce youth unemployment among Rwandan youth through career development programs and entrepreneurship. Prior to founding Talent Match, Allen worked in the field of Artificial Intelligence and transport digitization. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in political science with a concentration in political economy from Bates College in the United States. (Nominated by FLUSH. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 5, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.