Strengths in numbers is key to success
Margarita Nikuze, 46, started as a professional decorator for traditional spears, walking sticks and other local crafts. With time she was lucky to get training in dying clothes, by a Canadian volunteer in 1989.
The activity was the first of its kind in Shogwe sector and in 2005 she formed a cooperative with 10 other women, as a way of creating more income through solidifying her profession.
Each of the clothes made out of tie and dye are sold at above Rwf4500 and this has earned her a living, to be able to take care of four children- two of whom are now in secondary education and one in university.
Nikuze buys raw materials (white clothes and Paint) from Burundi and Kenya and makes the final product at her home. She says that there is need for equipment to make quality products and extend her market in the region.
She has also formed a weaving cooperative -‘Ngoboka Rugo’ which has so far trained eight young women some of them vulnerable. The cooperative’s vision- is to extend the skills to many women in a bid to empower them.
Her advice to other women is that in order to succeed it is critical to work in groups, cooperatives or associations so as to learn from each other and attain better skills and support.
Valerie Mukakanazi, 42, a resident of Rugendabari sector, is now recognized as an outstanding entrepreneur because of her rare talent and initiative. She personally hired a specialist from Kenya to teach her how to make paints, oils and soap and after gaining these skills, she established a micro-scale plant and an association of 17.
All the houses in the northern part of Muhanga district have been painted with her products and she has a big market in the district despite the fact that she lacks proper equipment to make quality products to compete effectively in the region.
With various training sessions on project management and entrepreneurship, she has also entered into transforming beehive residues into candles. However, this project has also been impeded by lack of equipment.
She earns a living and manages to educate her children out of her projects and advises other women to create demand based projects by embarking on unique undertakings.
Mukamusana is currently a successful woman and her success started after joining a women’s association- which helped her to contribute to her business in the market. With time business started booming and she has since been one of those visible traders in Bulinga trading center.
The continuous boom in business compelled her to start making savings in the local saving and credit schemes in which she also got support from her husband.
She has now built a commercial business premise (worth Rwf2m) near Rugendabari sector offices- it is the only center in the area that provide photocopying services, hair treatment and restaurant services.
With this at her disposal, Mukamusana says that she no longer depends on her spouse and can afford the health and education expenses for the entire family.
She calls on other rural women to always focus on their goals in life and work hard with savings at all times in order to succeed.