A few months ago, she was a waitress in Kigali. Elina Uwizeyimana, 22, from Muhima sector in Kigali; formerly a junior waitress at the Kigali Serena Hotel, recently caught the eye of a customer, who recruited her as a manager for the company she will set up in Kigali this year.
Uwizeyimana’s star shone when she was serving Narierut Pantong, the managing director, Nisco Group, a Thailand-based trading company dealing in Thai foods. Pantong was part of a business delegation from Asia that was looking for investment opportunities in Rwanda in January this year during the Rwanda Calling event.
“Pantong later told me that she was impressed with my service; ‘I thought you are just the best person to manage my business’ she told me. However, I will first go for a six-month training course at her company in Bangkok, Thailand to learn more about how the firm operates, among other things,” she explains.
Uwizeyimana left for Thailand a fortnight ago to begin the training and will return as the manager of Nisco Trading Company, which will be dealing in Thai food in Kigali. She is upbeat that this is just the beginning, noting that as a waitress, she always worked like the business is hers.
“I think that’s why one can easily notice the difference between me and my colleagues,” she says.
It is like Uwizeyimana was saved from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi for a purpose. The then two-year-old and her young step-brother survived the Genocide in which her parents and siblings died.
Uwizeyimana was to ‘shed off’ the traumatising experience and focus on rebuilding her life for the better, which has seen her add huge milestones to her name. She says after completing secondary education at King David Academy in Kigali in 2011, she did multiple contractual jobs in the hospitality industry.
“With the training I had, I knew I could do well in the hospitality sector,” she narrates.
Uwizeyimana says she used some of the money she earned to enrol for hospitality sector-related hands-on courses to improve her skills and pay her brother’s school fees. Her efforts paid off when she landed a job at Kigali Serena Hotel, as a waitress. She had previously worked with Inyange Industries.
But it is at Serena that Uwizeyimana has made her biggest breakthrough, thanks to her hard work and impressive service.
She is hopeful that besides promoting Thai food consumption in Rwanda, she will be able to also convince other investors to give Rwandan youth opportunities where they can exploit their potential and help the country achieve its economic goals.
“This is an eye-opener for me and I hope to inspire and commit towards helping other youth, especially Genocide survivors like me, to believe in their abilities and work hard to maximise their potential,” she says.
She urges youth, especially girls, never to shun any job, have a positive attitude and work diligently to achieve their dreams.