A participant of the Mastercard Foundation's initiative gains hospitality experience.

Courtesy of Cornell University

A participant of the Mastercard Foundation's initiative gains hospitality experience.

March 28, 2018

Business School to Offer Resources to Rwandan Students in Hospitality Industry

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The SC Johnson College of Business plans to provide training and educational resources to 1,275 young Rwandans in the hospitality and tourism industry as part of its recent partnership with the Mastercard Foundation over the next five years.

The Mastercard Foundation’s initiative Hanga Ahazaza, which means “creating the future” in Kinyarwanda, the official language of Rwanda, aims to provide training for 30,000 Rwandans.

The foundation, according to its website, increases the quality of educational materials given to Rwandan students in order to “ensure [the students] are aligned with national and global standards within the tourism and hospitality sector.”

With a rapidly increasing working population that is outpacing job creation, the Rwandan government hopes to create 200,000 new jobs each year, according to Nickie Fredenburg, assistant director of Hanga Ahazaza at Cornell.

As a part of this initiative, Cornell aims to grow the hospitality and tourism sector “by upskilling current managers, resulting in advancing careers and providing businesses the proper training to increase revenue and in turn, create more jobs,” Fredenburg said.

After being contacted by the Mastercard Foundation, which was drawn to Cornell due to the School of Hotel Administration’s reputation, the University found that the mission of Hanga Ahazaza “aligns closely” with the hotel school’s mission to “create and disseminate knowledge about hospitality management through teaching, research, industry relations and service,” Fredenburg said.

eCornell, the University’s online education department, will play a large role in this initiative, providing online training, as well as virtual live interactions between students and Cornell faculty. Online programming will allow the initiative to reach a large number of Rwandan students while saving resources and faculty travel time, according to Fredenburg.

The program will benefit young Rwandans, but also Cornell students and faculty, by allowing faculty and students to “conduct relevant research to not only support the Hanga Ahazaza initiative, but to contribute to the growing hospitality and tourism sector in Rwanda,” Fredenburg said.

Paul Krause, associate vice provost of online learning, said that Hanga Ahazaza is a “natural fit with our mission to extend the reach of Cornell University” and that the team feels “privileged” to be a part of the initiative. Fredenburg also said that this program aligns with Ezra Cornell’s vision of “any person, any study” in that it stresses public engagement and will help fulfill Cornell’s goal of “developing and enhancing” programs in East Africa.

The first 25 students in this program will begin their studies this June, according to a University press release.

Fredenburg said that even if the partnership doesn’t extend past the initial five years, which depends on funding and success of the program, students who have completed the program “will be able to continue the development of the Rwandan youth by leveraging their Cornell education.”