When life blesses you, you bless others and that is what Belinda Nyakira a young Rwandan businesswoman living in the UK is trying to do for the Rwandan community. Nyakira, 28, started an online clothing store in 2019 with the main goal of finding ways to open opportunities and be a part of the constantly-growing digital fashion world for women, by women. “I had to start somewhere, be it an online store, a physical warehouse, or even from my own home. While figuring out the philanthropic aspects hasnt been easy, its been eye-opening to constantly realize how much power we have to help others when we can, whether its small or big gestures,” she says. Starting out While starting her online clothing store named Very Belle her aim was to empower women in the Rwandan community, she finds it essential to the health and social development of families, communities, and countries to give women, young and old, the opportunity to feel confident, have access to experiences, or aid that they otherwise would not always be able to find so easily like in Western countries. Belinda Nyakira, founder and CEO of Very Belle. “I launched Very Belle with the aim of not just giving young women access to high-quality and trendy clothing items, but clothes they could feel confident, and beautiful in it. The brand has grown into the hope of empowering young women, and expanding ourselves into philanthropic endeavors that support underprivileged women.” Additionally, she says that joining the many young women business owners is a dream that she managed to achieve and hopes to inspire others to do what she took a step in building an empire for “belles by belles,” essentially. Gratitude from beneficiaries So far Nyakira managed to support 15 women with their monthly food shop in 2021. Bernadette Mukankusi, a 65-year-old widow is one of the women Nyakira and her business helped with food supplies. “I was married at a very young age, and my husband died when I was 22 years old, seeing someone like Belinda that I knew when she was a child back then doing humanitarian actions for her community is really a thing beyond humanity, she has a big heart that gives and remembers her own. Not only giving me food supplies she also provided me with words of faith and hope I am so grateful for that young woman’s heart,” she said. Viviane Mukakajuga is also one of the women Very Belle helped and provided some food supplies, she expresses her gratitude towards Nyakira saying she is a woman with a big and kind heart. “I would call this a surprise she did for us because she brought us fruits and having someone thinking about you in that way, someone who is willing to give you gifts out of nowhere is really something, Belinda is a kind and generous woman and we thank her for that, I am really grateful for her heart and generosity,” she expresses. So far, Very Belle has gathered donations for women who lost their husbands in the 1994 Genocide and raised over Rwf300k and has done many activities in the community. “We occasionally do financial giveaways ( so far 2-4 have occurred) where we choose random winners (girls) to receive a certain amount of money (especially with the challenging COVID times) and currently are delving into helping hospital patients cover any financial burdens. And soon we are hoping to collaborate with more women-focused organizations such as Domestic Violence Awareness organizations and more,” she says. Some of the designs showcased by Very Belle.Photos by Willy Mucyo. Her business has the main goal of growing the brand bigger than just where their customers are located, but to spread themselves throughout Africa, as the team grows, and also the objective has mainly been to continue giving young women access to quality clothing items. Nyakira describes the challenges she met to have been frustrating but that in the end, she managed to learn the market and also the team she works with. “The biggest challenge, in the beginning, was developing a team that could align with my vision, and then the several things that come with owning an online boutique such as delivery, building good customer service, and gaining traction on social platforms. As time goes on, my team and I have figured out ways that work for them and I, as we continue to learn and improve”. Nyakira has always hoped to help elevate the fashion industry in Rwanda and other East African countries and develop connections with like-minded peers.