Jacqueline Rutagarama, born in 1971 in Bujumbura in the neighbouring country of Burundi, is the third born in the family of five.
The 43-year-old Rutagarama, daughter to Lt. Alexandre Rutagarama (RIP) and Odette Mukamarara, attended her primary at Ecole St Joseph and later joined Ecole Libre for her secondary studies. She then joined Ecole Techinique de Commercial (ECOTEC) in Bujumbura where she got her diploma.
Like many other Rwandans who had long waited for the chance to return home, Rutagarama came to Rwanda in 1994 and run various businesses before going to Belgium.
Beginning of career
“In 2000 when I went to Belgium, life wasn’t that easy for me. It’s always easy to assume that life abroad is simple but when you get there, it is sometimes the opposite,” Rutagarama said, warning that unless until you get out of your comfort zone, you might not achieve much in life.
Her childhood dream was to become a photographer or IT personnel but as changed jobs, she eventually discovered her true ‘calling’ — video and photography. It was at this point that Rutagarama decided to undergo different trainings to cement what she can do best.
After getting her certificates, she started working with various companies in Belgium and buying new equipment that she would later use in her own studio.
In December 2007, Rutagarama came back to Rwanda and started her own business, African Digital Cinema Ltd (ADC), a video and photography company. But the journey wasn’t as smooth.
“It was not a bed of roses especially when I was starting. Whenever I applied for a contract, most people would wonder whether ‘this lady’ would deliver as expected. But with hardwork and commitnment, I finally made a breakthrough,” Rutagarama said.
Today, Rutagarama covers events across the country — in town and rural areas.
However, the entreprenuer also faces some challenges.
One of her biggest hurdles is doing a perfect job within a short period since many clients like to do things at the last minute yet want their videos quickly.
Rutagarama, being a wife, mother and business person, also has little time for her family.
“I do most of my work during the night. My children complain a lot but it is innevitable. Because of my heavy work load, I usually forego my vacations and often send my children to stay with relatives since their father lives abroad,” she narrates.
While clients were scarce at the beginning, today it’s the opposite. In fact Rutagarama says the demand is higher than she can satisfy.
“Many women have approached me to train them in photography and other related areas but I don’t have enough equipment and space to serve them all,” Rutagarama notes, adding that
“It’s good to seek advice from people but never give up on your dream or passion because of pressure from others,” Rutagarama advises.
Rutagarama’s future dream is to set up a photograpy school to train the mushrooming unprofessional photographers that will be able to produce quality work.