The experiences of Jean Baptiste match quite closely with those of Kelvin, although there are some differences. Jean Baptiste works for the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry, and like Kelvin is focused on trade negotiations and policy, although with even more of a focus on food security. Soon after the course, and due to the fact that he was so involved in the course and animated in extolling the virtues of the course when he returned, he was selected as a food security expert, working with FAO Rwanda and the national statistics office, together forming an expert group on food security. He has also been part of a team that has produced a report for the Rwanda – Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which is a multi-partner initiative for improving food security and nutrition analysis and decision-making. The report was a Chronic Food Insecurity analysis, which looks at various issues related to food security in Rwanda, with Jean Baptise doing much of the analysis for the report which will be published soon.
He also helped in developing the National Strategy for Transformation (NTS1), which is the Government of Rwanda’s long term social and economic development strategy. The NTS1 consists of three pillars, and Jean Baptise has been involved as one of the key staff on the pillar for economic transformation, specifically in providing the necessary information on agriculture and livestock productivity and trade. The goal here is to transform agriculture so that it not only meets the demands of providing food for the people, but to cultivate for business and export. Jean Baptiste was able to bring knowledge from the course to this process, especially in helping to form the Private Sector Development Strategy, by actively participating in sub-sector working groups on industry and exports; SMEs, productivity and employment; and investment and regulation). With his background in statistics, he contributes by giving reliable information on the trading and the production systems in Rwanda for this strategy, and this is further used to develop the National Export Strategy (NES). He is also currently involved in revising the SME policy, with a focus on entrepreneurship.
Jean Baptise says that the information from the course has been useful in all of the above discussions and work on policy, allowing him to bring a level of expertise and awareness of the issues that he was unable to before. Perhaps of even greater use, according to him, is the informal learning that went along with the course, especially in the weekly forum of discussion on the weeks topics. He would listen to the thoughts and presentations from others on the course, from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries and areas of expertise. He took notes on what these people were saying; small tips, nuggets of information, readings they found particularly useful. This kind of discussion forum has in fact continued after the course in a non-formal way. Jean Baptiste says that several of the participants from the course are part of an email group, where they send each other interesting or useful readings, raise questions and ideas, and provide each other with advice. While this was not an intended outcome of the course, this kind of community of support and ideas is welcome and a sign of the continuing impact that this course has had.
For Jean Baptiste, the course has provided the building blocks necessary to get ahead, giving him the foundations and basic knowledge required to work in trade and food security. His drive to learn is shown by the fact he asked for more advanced courses in the same topic, as he wants to go deeper and further build his expertise. Jean Baptise had worked for some time before the course in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, but without an expertise in food security and agriculture. When someone would inquire about food security or agricultural agreements at his work, he did not feel confident in providing answers. Now, with his expanded knowledge, backed up by his certificate, he is better equipped to deal with this topic. Thanks to his involvement and certification, he is considered a food security expert in his department. The impact for him personally, on his career and for his department continues, as he is certainly not done yet.