Fellow Q&A with Ndyabawe Myres & Shirah Narinda, Co-Founders of Rabbits for Education

Please introduce yourselves!

Myres: Hello, I am Ndyabawe Myres and I am 26 years old. I am Ugandan and a recent graduate of journalism and communication. I am a Resolution Fellow (Class 11) and the founder of Rabbits for Education.

Shirah: I am called Shirah Narinda, I am 26 years old and went to Makerere university. I am Ugandan and I am currently working as an accountant with VCON construction.

What three adjectives would people use to describe you?

Myres: Focused, Honest, and Brave

Shirah: Hardworking, religious, social. 

What is your favorite book and why?

Myres: Create Your Own Future by Brian Tracy. The book creates a belief in the readers to take control of their destiny. It inspired me to stop blaming people around me and start taking action to make the changes I wanted to see.

What is the challenge your venture seeks to address? 

The venture intends to address the problem of school dropouts at Kabuga Primary School, Kamwenge district in Western Uganda.

Have you been personally affected by this issue? If so, how? 

Myres: Well, I experienced it but at a different level. After my O-Level, my chances of continuing to A-Level had diminished because my mother couldn’t afford school fees. I was asked to pay 25% of what others paid so I was able to study. After my A-Level I couldn’t join University until I was supported by the Mastercard Foundation through their Scholars Program at Makerere University a year later.

How is your venture addressing these challenges?

We are training households (with school-going children) in rabbit farming, giving them rabbit seed, constructing cages, and providing access to markets so that they can raise their income in a very short period.

What does your venture hope to achieve?

We hope to enable households to afford to send and keep their children in school. We also hope to raise household incomes to enable families to afford things other than education.

What inspired you to start your venture?

Myres: The Rabbits for Education idea started after I failed to make it to the finals of the Resolution Social Venture Challenge in 2017. I had gone to South Africa with my friends and participated as semifinalists in the competition but that’s where we stopped. When we returned to Uganda, my zeal to create change in my community was still alive. I started asking friends for ideas on how I could achieve my goals, and that was when I met Magezi Bashir, the founder of Girls In School Initiative, an organization that promotes Girl Child Education. Bashir told me about rabbit farming as a way of raising household incomes which I tagged to addressing the problem of school dropouts. I  applied again for the Social Venture Challenge and won it in 2018 in Kigali. A lot has happened ever since and I encourage whoever has an idea to start and never stop working on it.

Shirah: Our educational journey was made possible by the support of the Mastercard Foundation who instilled in us the virtue of giving back to our community. Rabbits for Education is the way we are giving back, creating an impact in our community, while learning and earning as well.

What do you value most about the Resolution Fellowship?

Myres: The Fellowship is more of a family that brings together like minded people and prepares them to walk a journey of making the world a better place. 

Shirah: Resolution provided the seed funding that enabled us to launch Rabbits for Education. The Fellowship has given us a platform to present our venture to the world and access professional services and mentors.

What advice would you give other college students who are looking to start their first social venture?

Myres: I advise them to start NOW with whatever resources they have. The world needs people like them and although resources to help one make a big impact are not readily available, every community has something unique that one can start with.

Shirah: To venture into projects that are self-sustaining in the long run and where the impact can easily be quantified and realized.

What do you love most about your home community?

Myres: Members of my community are hardworking. They rely so much on agriculture and spend much of their time in their gardens.

Shirah: They are receptive and quickly responsive to income generating projects.

What role do young leaders play in the world today?

Myres: Young leaders are changing the narrative when it comes to development and accountability. They agitate for transparency and hold their governments accountable.

Why is it important for young people to focus on social impact?

Myres: Unemployment is so high in young people and as others struggle to make ends meet and push governments to create jobs, there are lots of opportunities that lie in solving problems that affect our communities. Young people should focus on social change and do away with selfish thinking. Focus on inclusiveness to make the world a comfortable place for everyone.

Tell more about your work in response to COVID-19 (If applicable)

Myres: I spent much of my time working with our beneficiaries at their rabbit farms. I taught them feeding, disease detection and record keeping. I also sensitized some community members on Covid-19, encouraging them to observe and follow the Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the government to control the spread of the virus. 

Do you have any personal or professional goals for this summer?

Myres: I want to give more time to the venture and make it a reality by bringing more beneficiaries on board and enabling more pupils to go back to school.