From scratch Ndayiryama is now a furniture mogul

Ndayiryama Jean Baptiste was born 37 years ago in Muhanga district, Southern Province. If you had told him during his early years that he would be an interior designer, he would have laughed in your face. It was not something he thought he’d do.
Jean Baptiste at his showroom in Remera. The New Times/ I. Ngoboka
Jean Baptiste at his showroom in Remera. The New Times/ I. Ngoboka

Ndayiryama Jean Baptiste was born 37 years ago in Muhanga district, Southern Province. If you had told him during his early years that he would be an interior designer, he would have laughed in your face. It was not something he thought he’d do.

He studied hard through secondary school to get a place at the National University of Rwanda (NUR), the main institution of higher learning at the time. He hoped to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration course; something he believed would earn him a prosperous career.

However, in life, people do not always get what they want. He failed to meet the requirements despite studying very hard.

He later enrolled at a local vocational institute in 1988, where he did a three year course in carpentry and interior design.

Using his savings, with the help of his parents, he set up a small retail shop with a meager Rwf 40,000. The retail shop struggled for some time. During the 1994, Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, he lost everything.  He slumped back to being frustrated with life with no hope or where to turn.

However, in 2000, he decided to give the business another try.  He secured another loan from his parents worth Rwf 300,000. He used it to open a shop in Kigali, but the shop staggered for a while. He couldn’t even pay back the loan.

A ray of hope

In 2012, things started to change for the better.

He noticed that the demand for quality furniture was going up, yet there wasn’t in adequate supply.  So this was the time to put his expertise to use.

He secured a Rwf 800,000 loan from a local bank. He was able to purchase a few carpentry tools and also open a small timber store in Kabeza.

“I concentrated on producing furniture for upscale homes, since the middle class was growing. I knew the demand was guaranteed, something most people in this kind of trade hadn’t thought about,” Jean Baptiste says.

Slowly, his clientele grew and he began making good profits. He has now opened up a showroom worth Rwf 15million in Remera that boasts of sofa sets, cupboards, dining table sets, beds and so much more. He has six fulltime employees.

Using the proceeds from his furniture sales, Jean Baptiste has been able to send his five kids to school. He has also built a house for his family in Kicukiro, a Kigali suburb.

However, he says that in this business, he is still dogged by one main challenge, inadequate capital to stock enough timber, therefore making it hard to provide a variety of furniture to customers.

 “I try to set realistic delivery deadlines, so as avoid disappointments and un-necessary stress. I think that has made me win people’s trust.”

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