Evaluating the change in financial status of community members through university employment in rural Rwanda

Employment can enable an individual to earn a living and potentially elevate their material well-being. Globally, women have lower labor force participation and receive less wages compared to men. A new university in Rwanda has intentionally prioritized employing local community members, especially women. This study evaluated the change in their financial status since employment. Information was collected from all contractors who had been employed by the university for more than 6 months. Change in income, saving amounts, poverty levels (inflation-adjusted) since employment were analyzed, subdivided by gender and profession. Our study found that the median income and saving of 138 participants significantly increased (P<0.001). A significant proportion of respondents emerged from poverty, especially among the female respondents (P=0.02), as well as in the overall sample (P=0.019). Men significantly had higher income than women before joining the university (P=0.019) but no difference in income were found between men and women since joining (P=0.949). The change in income was statistically different by the job profession (p<0.001) and positively correlated to the duration of employment (P=0.006). Structured and intentional employment could empower impoverished communities by improving their income and savings, thus helping them emerge from poverty. This change, in our study, was more obvious among female workers. The employment through the university has closed the income gap between men and women contractors, serving as a means in promoting gender equality. 

Keywords: employment, economic change, development, financial inclusion, economic empowerment, low- and middle-income country

CPI – Consumer Price Index 

UGHE – University of Global Health Equity