Rwandan Frank Bayingana continues education and nurtures entrepreneurial dreams with KCF support

August 07, 2013

Frank Bayingana’s face lights up when he mentions that he’d like to study business management in college. He would like to someday start his own company, an aspiration he has had since he was a youngster in his native Rwanda.

Frank, 22, made his first trip to the U.S. this summer through the Kittelson Charitable Foundation (KCF). His roughly three-week stay was filled with new experiences. It marked his first time on an airplane, he visited a handful of museums, he tried his first pepperoni pizza (he’s a fan), and he visited the Oregon State University and University of California at Berkeley campuses. Outgoing and quick to smile, Frank said he looks forward to the possibility of going to college in the United States and fulfilling his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

Frank was among the first students the KCF sponsored when the foundation began in December 2007. KCF’s mission is to create educational opportunities for individuals to achieve a sustainable improvement in their quality of life so they can positively affect the lives of others.

Like many young Rwandans, Frank has faced barriers to education. Per capita annual income in the country is about $200, and many youngsters must work to help support their families. In addition, the cost of tuition, books, and supplies is in excess of $500 per year, which means most families cannot afford to send their children to high school.

With the KCF’s help, Frank re-entered school in 2008 as the equivalent of a seventh grader. He is now poised for his last high school term in Rwanda and will take the national exams this fall. He hopes to do well on them so he can take the next step in his educational journey and make the most of the assistance the KCF has provided.

During his trip, Frank took a few minutes to talk about his experiences in the U.S. and life in Rwanda. He said he most enjoyed spending time with those who have supported him and wanted to get to know him better. He visited KAI’s Portland, OR and Oakland, CA offices, interacted with the firm’s employees, and saw the sights in and around Portland, the San Francisco Bay area, and Boston.

Frank used Facebook to communicate with his friends back in Rwanda, who he said were interested to know if he had eaten the food in the states and if he had talked with many Americans.

In Rwanda, Frank lives with his father and mother in Ngaramo, a village located about four hours away by car from the capital, Kigali. He is the oldest among three sisters and a brother and is the first in his family, which makes its living by farming, to visit the US. He is friends with a few other young Rwandans supported by the KCF, including Ivan Mutabazi, who is from the same village and is attending Oregon’s George Fox University. Since KCF was founded, about 50 students have continued their studies through the foundation’s Rwanda Rising initiative, which creates educational opportunities for students who would be unable to continue their schooling without the KCF’s support.

Frank said he already has a jumpstart on his business education by taking economics in high school. He is not yet sure what type of business he would launch, but sees his trip to the US and other experiences brought about with the help of KCF as opening doors of opportunity.

“It makes me want a solution to my life and will help my family,” he said.

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