Diane Mukashema is a farmer and the founder of Mush House, a mushroom firm located in Gasabo District.
In 2016, after pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Development Economics at University of Rwanda, Huye campus, the 26-year-old entrepreneur sought for a job as most fresh graduates do.
After months of applications in different local and international companies, she was lucky to secure a job which she lost months later after misunderstandings with her employer.
This pushed her to start her own business. At the time she had a friend who was already in the mushroom business and used her venture as a case study of the market. Relying on her business connections, she started a mushroom venture relying on her friend’s connections.
In June 2017, she started a mushroom farm on her father’s land in Gasabo district from her savings of Rwf 400,000. The farm occupies 35 Square Metres.
Though she lacked experience and skills, Christian Ruzindana, the Chief Executive of ‘Yummy mushrooms’ gave her the necessary mentoring and training she needed to develop her venture.
She currently delivers her mushrooms to hotels and local market like Kimironko and to individual customers.
In a week, she sells about 15 to 20 Kgs of mushrooms, each Kilogram at Rwf 1,500. At the moment, she has one employee.
Mukashema notes that so far, people in Rwanda are starting to pick up interest in Mushrooms, though others have not really known the nutritious values of mushrooms which affects the demand.
“Through my one -year- old business, I am able to satisfy my basic requirements, and save every month in order to expand my business to where I want it to be in about five years,” she says.
She is looking forward to setting up another business in coming days.
The main challenge she is facing is that mushrooms are very perishable as other vegetables, yet she doesn’t have a way of preserving them which often causes them to go bad resulting to losses.
The mushroom entrepreneur hopes to improve her practices and approaches to make mushrooms more available and accessible to Rwandans.
“If you want to start up a business in the sector, learn how to grow mushrooms, find an ideal space, it doesn’t have to be big. Get startup funding, this business is cheap to start. If you don’t have any funds, you can get a small loan from a financier,” she noted.
Mukashema urges emerging entrepreneurs to understand their local market to know who competitors as well as potential clients.
She added that one should begin with a clear goal of their preferred performance in the sector which will enable them to plan adequately for growth and optimum performance.
“Have a clear vision while making decisions, don’t be afraid to fail. It is good to have some minor failures to learn from. With patience and persistence, you will grow to where you want to be. What matters is noticing your mistakes and rectifying them,” she noted.