Gloria Kamanzi Uwizera has been in the creative industry for 12 years now, long enough to improve her skills in Made in Rwanda textile designs. There is something distinctive about her style, often creating a rich appearance, especially in home decor. Uwizera, 40, is the brains behind Glo Creations Ltd, a textile design and printing company that concentrates on arranging African inspired quality patterns for garments and home interior, located in Kiyovu. Her company that was established in 2008 basically designs, and prints on textile with hand techniques. Glo Creations is textile-based and includes printed fabrics, home interior accessories, distinct stylish accessories like handbags and home decor garnishes like cushion covers, wall hangings, tablecloths and tablemates, ready-to-wear garments such as t-Shirts and customised products. Some of the cushions designed by Glo creations. /Photos: Courtesy According to Uwizera, her firm is specialised in ‘batik’, a method of hand printing, and hand-dyeing on textile. How her journey started “My spur for starting my business was inspired from my grandfather, first and then my mother. I was introduced to business and involved in it by my mother at the age of 12. As a little girl, I was very passionate about drawing and colouring images,” Uwizera says. With her eagerness to learn new things, Uwizera kept on developing the skills until secondary school, with no idea that it would blossom into her current business. While living in Senegal where she pursued her studies, in 2004 she was introduced to a textile art known as ‘batik’. A relative introduced her to an artist and requested him to give her some lessons. More of her interior designs. Photos/ Courtesy Within five days, Uwizera had learned textile printing on t-shirts—what was required was to keep practicing. Although she had decided to make the batik on t-shirts as a business, she reckoned that her drawing skills were much more needed. In 2005, she returned home with a vision of creating job opportunities. At first, her family wasn’t convinced about her new business idea, except her father who was very supportive. Later on, other family members supported her too, as they saw the talent in her. For the first few years, Uwizera says she faced the lack of trust phase as a young female entrepreneur in the local market. In 2008, she registered her company and embarked on her entrepreneurial journey. Her drive has been long and hard but it has permitted her to learn and equip herself with as much business and technical expertise as possible. “My passion and determination for art, textile printing and business has opened doors to a number of opportunities,” she says. Other than running her business, Uwizera serves in the African Women Entrepreneurship programme (Rwanda Chapter) (AWEP Rwanda) as its chairperson, and is also a board member with the Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs under Private Sector Federation-PSF. AWEP Rwanda is an outreach, education and commitment initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, and increase trade. According to Uwizera, to be a member of AWEP, you have to be a businesswoman with a registered company, with 50 to 100 per cent ownership of the company. Achievements Uwizera says she has seen that hard work pays off; she has made an impact in the lives of people through her work, such as, her employees, clients and the community. The recognition and support towards her work has grown gradually, but she says that she still has a long way to go in growing local industries. She so far has six permanent workers, and a number of part-timers. Challenges She says that the textile-printing specialty is part of the creative industry, which is quite new in Rwanda. “We have a serious challenge of getting skilled people in this area, which requires us to invest in skill training, which is costly. The source of raw materials isn’t well organised, for example, its availability and affordability,” she says. Future plans She looks forward to collaborating with local artisan women cooperatives, local and foreign designers to grow her line of products 100 per cent Made-in-Africa, and to strengthen her presence on the international market through exports. Uwizera’s vision is going beyond fair trade to generate jobs and to advance the quality of life for the young people who are not educated due to poverty and disease. But to also assist younger people to learn skills that will equip them with the possibility of something greater.