From childhood, Nadine Ishimwe has always been driven to protect the environment. While in secondary school, she was an active member in the environment club and later became an environment protection agent in her community.
She says that she was often disturbed by the disposal of waste, such as clothes and plastic materials, around her community land and forests.
In her community, there was a growing concern on the disposal of old clothes that would often be thrown by residents alongside the roadside.
To address this, Ishimwe found that the only solution to the issue would be to come up with ways to manage the old clothes. This was the genesis of founding her company “Inadine’s flower pots” in August last year.
The company’s name is the abbreviation of her name Ishimwe Nadine.
Ishimwe, 29, lives in Kagenge cell, Mayange sector in Bugesera District and is a university graduate.
How it started
After thinking through the idea, Ishimwe took to the internet to study more about the concept and check out similar models elsewhere. She picked up some tips and further ideas to boost the initial concept.
“I realised that having the final product required one to have three kinds of raw materials such as cement, water and clothes. I started small almost as a hobby with the intention to manage the waste at home without destroying the environment,” she explained
The innovator was encouraged that her samples were so appreciated by the visitors as some were interested in paying for the products. It is then that she realised that there was an avenue to make money with mass production.
“Following the requests of various people to produce for them, I started collecting more old clothes. I encouraged community members to bring their old clothes to my home and urged more youth to join the trade,” she said.
She started by training six young people who helped in the inception phase of the project by collecting more clothes from around the community.
Robert Niweherezo is employed to paint the products./Photo by Frederic Byumvuhore
Initially, she would get clothes for free then later started paying Rwf150 per kilogramme. Lately, the price for one kilogramme has increased to Rwf500. Two vases can be produced from one Kilogramme.
To expand the interest and demand for her products, her team started sharing the pictures on social media.
Ishimwe supplies her products to two show rooms, one based in Nyamata and another in Gisozi, Kigali.
She is still negotiating with potential clients in Kigali and one in Belgium who is currently reviewing samples.
For each vase, the production cost us about Rwf4000 and has revenue of about Rwf10,000. She can produce about two vases per day.
Monthly, she says earns a net profit of up to Rwf 80,000 which make it possible for her to pay fees for her school-going children and caters for the family’s basic needs.
The entrepreneur recently won the 2018 Youth Connect Awards as a young innovator at the district level and walked away with a cash price of Rwf300,000. At the provincial level, the project was selected among top three projects.
Ishimwe plans to expand the project and roll it out countrywide to support efforts for self-reliance as well as help protect the environment.
The project has created employment for three permanent workers among other temporary employees who collect clothes from the community.
She has also trained 17 young people in the skill and wish to employ them as the project expands.
The project has also improved the welfare of people in the community as they get paid for their old clothes.
Ishimwe has been able to acquire a plot worth Rwf800,000 in Mayange Sector.
Nadine Ishimwe (in an overall) mixes the materials as her workers look on./Photo by Frederic Byumvuhore
I encourage young people to focus on their goals no matter what challenges they face. Capital should not limit one from implementing their projects.
What her employees say
“My colleague told me about the project and I became so curious to see how it works. I found that they produce good things from old clothes. I started supplying the materials until I got employed. My earnings help me to afford basic needs as well as save for the future,” Cecille Uwihoreye, from Mayange Sector, said.
“I am glad to have the opportunity, it is not related to my educational background but I am relying on it to improve my welfare. I finished my secondary studies in 2015 but I was jobless until last year when I got a job here,” Robert Niweherezo, who paints the vases, said.