Samuel Zizinga, Augustin Nsengiyumva and Noella Mugisha compete on Rwanda's first-ever reality show 'Zamuka'. (Photo Credit: Search for Common Ground)
Samuel Zizinga, Augustin Nsengiyumva and Noella Mugisha compete on Rwanda’s first-ever reality show ‘Zamuka’.
(Photo Credit: Search for Common Ground)

Search for Common Ground (SFGC),an international NGO, is hoping to inspire and launch a new generation of young entrepreneurs with Zamuka – the first ever, Rwandan reality TV show. Unlike the reality show genre that dominates U.S. programming, this pioneering show is designed to encourage building a life beyond farming and agriculture. Heading into its second season, the reality show models entrepreneurism and encourages rural youth to take informed risks and find creative ways to earn a living. On the show, three contestants face challenges and are offered coaching to help them overcome a traditional culture of reticence in order to break into the business world as serious players.

Funded by the Belgian government, the show is produced locally as a partnership between Search for Common Ground and independent station TV10. Season 1 aired in November 2013 and featured three contestants: M. Noella Mugisha, 23, who aimed to launch a computer security business;  Augustin Nsengiyumva, 27, who dreamed of starting a cyber café in his home district outside of the Capital, and Samuel ‘Sam’ Zizinga, 26, who envisioned an animation business to introduce cartoons using Rwandan culture as entertainment. At the end of the six episodes, an independent panel of experts named Sam the winner of $1,500 (US) for the best idea and most feasible business plan.

The idea for the show came out of the realization that reality television can be a tool for change in emerging economies like Rwanda, which has been called the “Singapore of Africa” due to its relative stability and intense focus on creating a knowledge-based economy.

Rebecca Besant, Regional Director for SFGC says:

“We developed the show because we had seen our colleagues do a reality TV show in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) around citizen engagement, and were very intrigued by how it spoke to the audience and motivated people to get involved in a different way. Rwanda has very limited local media, with almost nothing produced in the country for TV, so we wanted to see if we could introduce an innovative format that could get people excited about a really relevant topic in the country–youth livelihoods and entrepreneurship.”

Zamuka, which starts its second season in March, is continuing its quest to drive home the importance of entrepreneurism to young people. Besant adds:

“We are hoping that the show encourages young people to take informed risks: we want them to think outside the box about what they can do with their knowledge and skills, but also to think through what they need to put in place to be successful as business entrepreneurs. The show is a mix of encouragement and caution in that way.”

Check SFGC for air dates and times.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D.,  founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.

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