Indigenous knowledge is critical in generating local innovation and in fostering sustainable entrepreneurship, especially among women rural dwellers. In many rural communities, more women than men use indigenous technology at home and outside the home, in getting small-scale, localized commercial projects accomplished. Even where they have access to employment in rural areas, women don’t always have access to modern technology for use in the production process; they normally apply traditional methods and techniques.
Attempts at extending modern technology to rural women have often proven unaffordable to many African governments, as it entails much more than the transfer of tangible technology, but requires much investment of time and funds in continuous education, training, and maintenance – sustainability becomes impractical. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the idea and practice of technology transfer has failed in the past decades in being able to actually transfer sustainable technology to rural communities. This is mostly due to the fact that imported technology is difficult to establish, and to maximally function independently in a foreign environment.
Rural women are in need of job creation techniques that can be sustained over a period of time. There is need to focus on improving skill among rural women to such an extent that they can scale-up indigenous technology and be able to create viable employment that can be sustainable. In reality however, previous studies on job creation among rural women in sub-Saharan have almost always focused on generating more farm and non-farm employment opportunities that are oftentimes not founded on scaling up the local knowledge or technology within communities (IDA & ILO, 2010; IFAD, 2011; FAO-CEDAW, 2013). This approach has often proven unsustainable over time as it requires much external support from government or NGOs. Some studies done in other countries such as in parts of Asia, Nigeria and South Africa have established that indigenous technology when scaled up in collaboration with local communities can be a springboard for further innovations and entrenches sustainable entrepreneurship (Oyewole, 2009; IFAD, 2004; Seleti & G, 2014).
The International Development Research Center funded a research in Rwanda to explore the possibilities of creating employment among rural women in Rwanda through scaling-up indigenous technology. Findings from the research will inform policy making and influence the laws, policies and programmes that can address the historically disadvantaged situation of rural women much more effectively from an indigenous technology perspective.
The research was conducted between 2015 and 2017 and was headed by a senior lecturer in the University of Rwanda College of Business and Economics, Dr. Chika Ezeanya-Esiobu who acted as the Principal Investigator. Her profile is available on her blog at www.chikaforafrica.com.
- Field-based research was conducted into the following indigenous technology based products:
- Banana Beer and non-alcoholic wine
- Sorghum beer and non-alcoholic drink
- Fermented milk
- Indigenous vegetables
- Interviews were conducted with key persons in the following institutions:
- National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR)
- Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI)
- National Library of Rwanda
- Rwanda Development Board (RDB)
- National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA)
- National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST)
- Ministry of Commerce (MINICOM)
- Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN)
- Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC)
- Ministry of Public Service and Labor (MIFOTRA)
- Ministry of Education (MINEDUC – STR)
- Gender Monitoring Office (GMO)
- Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF)
- Business Development Fund (BDF)
- Workforce Development Authority (WDA)
- World Bank
- Chinese embassy
- Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR)
- World Vision
- CARE International