The story of Callixte Ikuzwe empowering people with visual impairments in Rwanda

Callixte Ikuzwe (center) is a young man with Visual Impairment, living in Kigali city, Rwanda. He is the initiator and founder of Hope in His Vision Academy (a center for independent living for the blind). He is currently working with Seeing Hands Rwanda, an organization empowering people with visual impairments through employment and assistive technology. 

He is a Mandela fellow 2022 and an assistive technology specialist at Index Digital LTD, focusing on inclusive production, where he has been working with eKitabu to produce inclusive and accessible printable materials including agendas and business cards. He is driven by the vision to achieve an inclusive community where everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.

“I always keep in mind that every business should be based on providing solutions to existing problems, for the business to stay strong. This has helped me and showed me that it is possible to initiate a business as a differently-abled person and succeed.” Said Callixte. 

Currently, Callixte is an Assistive Technology Specialist at Index Digital LTD, a program manager at Seeing Hands Rwanda, and the managing director of Hope in his Vision Academy. He is inspired by the desire to contribute to barrier removal for persons with disabilities and by initiating solutions to social challenges that persons with disabilities encounter.

“For a person with a disability to succeed, the business should dominate all external factors that influence business activities. Social attitudes toward persons with disabilities in general act as a discouraging factor though the ambitions always pave the way through.” Noted Callixte

“When working with eKitabu we use a result-based approach where the objective has always been to deliver the best product and services. While working on braille business cards, they expected the best product from me. I’d work on a sample, share it with them, and get feedback on what is good and what should be improved until we got a great sample to work with when printing braille business cards.” Said Callixte.

eKitabu Braille business cards printed by Callixte

“This showed me that they fully trusted that I am able to deliver the best products. It influenced me to work in an inclusive business environment by applying a similar approach to other business partners, to not just accept products and/or services from a person with a disability as it is when you know it can be improved and you can help in improving it.” Said Callixte.

Callixte holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Rwanda, College of Business and Economics. In his Secondary studies, at an advanced level, he majored in History, Economics, and Geography at Gahini Inclusive School in Rwanda and did his ordinary level at Gatagara High School. He also did his Primary School at Gatagara Special School for the Blind in Rwamagana, Rwanda. Currently, he is enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration in Project Management at the University of Rwanda, College of Business and Economics.

“Accessibility to me means to have an inclusive design in everything. I believe that accessibility should be considered from the very start of each and every project. Inclusive education in Rwanda is still at a lower rate. There are a few schools engaged in inclusive education but most children with special needs still have to go long distances to access education.” Said Callixte

Callixte believes that Rwanda government, education stakeholders, including social enterprises, public organizations, and school owners, share the responsibility of inclusivity in schools in Rwanda. The larger question remains as to who bears this responsibility for both the near future and long term.  Stakeholders seem to be leaving the issue to one another, or perhaps better communication is needed among the parties? The common understanding, community involvement, and shared responsibility should be the focus to better address the lack of inclusivity in schools today.

“I have known Callixte since he was very young. He was a very talented child and as he grew up, he kept proving himself as very talented. He is a very hardworking, motivated, and brilliant person.” Noted Venantie Mukanziza, Inclusive Education Specialist eKitabu Rwanda. 

“By working with eKitabu, they opened the door and challenged other businesses and stakeholders to start thinking more about the inclusiveness of their activities and believe in the abilities of persons with disabilities and learning from what we achieved with eKitabu. Solution-centered business leads to success.” Said Callixte.