Catherine Bashabe, also known as Kate Bashabe, is a businesswoman, founder of Kabash Fashion House, and a philanthropist. She recently released her first single dubbed, ‘You & I’, which features five Rwandan artistes, and aims at restoring hope to the hopeless and to encourage Rwandans to support people with special needs.
She talked to The New Times’ Sharon Kantengwa about her philanthropy work and business journey.
Give us a background about yourself?
I was born in Uganda, to Rwandan parents. I finished my advanced education level from Apred Ndera Secondary School, and pursued my bachelors in Information Science and Logistics from Mt. Kenya University. I have a genuine interest in business management and entrepreneurship.
Tell us a bit about your modeling career and fashion business.
I always liked modeling, but I officially became involved in 2010, when I participated in a beauty contest and was crowned Miss MTN. I was also crowned Miss Nyarugenge in 2012. It was the first crown, however, that the modeling light started igniting in me. I discovered my dream for fashion at a young age, though it was unattainable at the time, I kept focusing on what I would need to know and be able to do to start a fashion business. Besides winning the two beauty contests, I also had a job and saving was one of the things I focused on.
I opened a fashion boutique, Kabash Fashion House, in 2012, and a year later, I started another line of business in interior designing, African crafts and all African design prints under Kabash House. Although it took me years to gain experience, it made it easier for me to make career decisions and determine my next steps. The most enticing aspect of starting a business in fashion is that fashion blossoms when unexpected.
A lot has been said about you, some call you a ‘slay queen’, others come up with all sorts of stories. What do you say about this and does it affect you and your businesses?
We have to understand that it’s impossible to avoid criticism nowadays; people have different opinions, which is good because I think life would be boring if we all thought and felt the same way.
I like to keep an open mind for people who disagree with me, stay true to myself and remain composed to keep my reputation and the image of my businesses.
Tell us about the song ‘You & I’, how did you come up with the concept? Also, share with us the different charity activities that you are involved in.
I started with two young boys that I pay school fees for, and cater for all their school necessities for seven years now, this inspired me to come up with an idea of carrying out charity activities every year. I started with the unprivileged children in Huye District, that I supported with school kits in 2017, and also reached out to some of the Genocide survivors, who are members of Turebimbere cooperative, in 2018, and I’m already planning to go back this year. Besides the above mentioned, I visit the sick and support women artisans in villages to market and expose their products to a wider market.
It’s actually out of these charity activities that I came up with the song ‘YOU & I...can change the world’ after listening to people’s stories of how they would love their lives to be better people.
The song carries a message of hope, love, unity, and words of encouragement, especially to the young generation for a brighter future.
How much did you spend on the song project if it is not a secret?
Well, we didn’t spend a lot of resources on the song because everyone who participated in this song volunteered to give back to the community and I would like to thank them for doing so.
After releasing the song, what do you hope to achieve?
I hope that the public, especially the young generation, positively receives and responds to the message in the song through love, unity, working together, lifting up one another, not giving up on their dreams, working hard, and having hope that one day they will reach their dreams.
Do you plan to go into music fully?
Not at all. I only decided to put the message in a song because music is one of the easiest ways to reach out to the public.
Where do you find the connection between business and philanthropy?
As I continue to look for opportunities to assist people and serve, I have come to understand that giving back to the community creates a relationship of trust and loyalty; and improves professional reputation of your business. This impacts sales and attracts new clients.
What is the biggest change you have felt since you began philanthropy?
A feeling of social conscience and a greater feeling of joy and contentment.