Ngenzi, a former hawker with a mission

His early life in business was characterised by run-ins with the Police and other law enforcement officers. He developed ‘immunity’ against the scorching sun and merciless cold weather as he traversed Rulindo looking for customers, but he never gave up. His perseverance paid off eventually and Jean Ngenzi now owns three businesses.
Ngenzi in his bar, one of the three enterprises he owns. The New Times / S. Habimana
Ngenzi in his bar, one of the three enterprises he owns. The New Times / S. Habimana

His early life in business was characterised by run-ins with the Police and other law enforcement officers. He developed ‘immunity’ against the scorching sun and merciless cold weather as he traversed Rulindo looking for customers, but he never gave up. His perseverance paid off eventually and Jean Ngenzi now owns three businesses.

It is said that only the ‘strong in spirit can make it to the top in today’s cutthroat capitalist society. This goes for Jean Ngenzi, who braved harsh weather and unfavourable trade conditions to become a top business man in his locality.

Ngenzi’s early life in business was characterised by run-ins with the Police and law enforcement officers.

The resident of Cyungo sector in Rulindo District, Northern Province had become ‘immune’ to the severe sun and merciless cold weather as he traversed Rulindo town neighbourhoods looking for customers.

The former hawker, who now boosts of thriving retail, as well as a bar and restaurant enterprise  in Rulindo town, says though the hawking business left him almost penniless after he sold his only piece of land to pay debts, he never lost focused on his goals.

“I was engaged in vending because I could not afford to pay rent in a market. So, I had to persevere and try to make the best of what I could afford despite the conditions,” he says.

However, things got only worse as he accumulated more debts. He says after this experience he quit hawking, but he never gave up on his dream of becoming a successful business man.

“I got tired of being arrested every time and losing my goods. So I had to think of a way out of all this, and also be able to support three siblings,” he recalls. He quit hawking in 2005.

Two years later in 2007, the 29-year-old joined a local co-operative, La Co-operative D’Epargne et de Credit (ISanduku Twizamure Iwacu (COOPEC ITI). It is from the co-operative that he secured a loan of Rwf300,000 to start up a retail shop in Cyungo sector.

So far, the tide seems to be flowing smoothly for him as he has opened a restaurant and bar in Rulindo town, from which he earns Rwf1m per month.

Retail business pays off

Ngenzi says after one year, he expanded the business and opened a restaurant and bar. He is also an agent of SKOL beer.

“Hard work pains but pays. I work hard because every minute counts,” says the Primary Six school dropout.

Ngenzi is a business man with a vision. He says he is working with other villagers to see how they can develop the area. The village has no power, the road is impassable and his is the only shop in the locality.

“I know how hard it is to get money in the village, but my wish is for everyone to live a better live,” says Ngenzi.

Ngenzi employs 15 workers, all of whom are from the neighbourhood. He says he always gets up at five o’clock in the morning to prepare for the day ahead.

Achievement

Ngenzi has built a permanent house worth Rwf5m in Cyungo. He has also bought a five-hectare piece of land, where he plans to set up a hotel. He provides conference services at a facility that  accommodates, about 200 people. The facility is used for weddings and conferences. Ngenzi has 10 dairy cows and many goats.

Advice


Ngenzi encourages the youth to be creative, saying that is the only way they can set up income-generating projects. He also urges them to join co-operatives.

“Co-operatives are close to everyone and are helpful to the common man. There is nothing difficulty in starting a business, especially when you are still young and strong,” he advises.

Ngenzi calls on business people to make saving a habit, and to ensure proper management to succeed.

What others say to him

Jean Damascene Mvunabandi, COOPEC ITI manager

Ngenzi has proven that one can achieve whatever they want if they are committed and hardworking. Ngenzi is also trustworthy and, has motivated our youth to work hard.

Clément  Muhire, Cyungo sector resident

His business has helped us a lot as we used to walk a long distance to buy supplies.

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