After months of training on how to design and sustain income generating activities, over 250 former sex workers and beggars from Kigali City have been given Rwf33m to start small businesses.
The money was raised by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) to help them develop their cooperatives.
The Government through Gender Ministry organised solidarity camps for the women to help them reintegrate in normal life and to find decent jobs to support their families.
According to the Director General in MIGEPROF, Francois Kalisa, this was done in order to implement one of the ministry’s mandates of empowering women and ensuring that their rights are respected.
“Poverty as one of the barriers to development has forced most women into hopelessness; most of them end up taking up indecent jobs to sustain their families,” says Kalisa.
The women have now formed cooperatives and have started selling fruits and vegetables in different markets in Kigali.
The president of one of the cooperatives that operates in Kicukiro District, Belline Mukobwajana, says that their organisation has benefited much from the programme.
“I used to sell fruits in the streets, always hiding from the police, sometimes beaten up or arrested because I was selling them illegally. But now I am free and comfortable to do my work,” says Mukobwajana.
She said that they have started receiving requests from other women who want to join their cooperative because they have seen that the lives of their former colleagues change.
However, the women still face some challenges like lack of storage facilities for their perishable products.