Ruhango women to hone skills in handicraft trade

The Beauty of Rwanda has partnered with AIESEC Rwanda to equip women handicraft makers in Ruhango District with hands-on skills to help them improve their products, and operate their enterprises profitably.
Kaitesi (right) admires some of the items made  by the group. Kaitesi's BoR is one of the main buyers of the products that include baskets  and wall marts. (Stephen Nuwagira)
Kaitesi (right) admires some of the items made by the group. Kaitesi's BoR is one of the main buyers of the products that include baskets and wall marts. (Stephen Nuwagira)

The Beauty of Rwanda has partnered with AIESEC Rwanda to equip women handicraft makers in Ruhango District with hands-on skills to help them improve their products, and operate their enterprises profitably. 

Henry Umunnakwe, the country director AIESEC, an international university students’ organisation, said the training will focus on financial education, particularly bookkeeping, accountancy, marketing and product packaging, as well as practical skills on ICT and managing the production value chain to help enhance quality.

The beneficiaries, Berwa Women’s Association, a handicraft¬ making group found in Kamusenyi, Byimana in Ruhango District, make handicrafts and ornaments, including baskets, table mats, earrings, table and wall marts, as well as toys and balls, for the local and export markets.

Umunnakwe said such skills are vital to improve product quality, and also help build profitable businesses to ensure a sustainable source of income for their households.

“Beauty of Rwanda (BoR) provides the group a ready market in Europe, but if they lack financial skills, like money management or bookkeeping skills, they might not fully gain from this opportunity. Therefore, the skills acquired will enable them to run their enterprises better, as well as help them to save and reinvest the money gotten from export of their products to improve living standards,” he said.

He added that they will also teach the artisans ICT skills so they can market their goods online to reach more buyers.

Salha Kaitesi, the Beauty of Rwanda chief executive, said the organisation helps the group secure better markets in Europe so that they can be able to improve their lives and those of their families.

Kaitesi argued that women cannot be fully liberated if they are still economically dependent on cash handouts from their male counterparts.

She said the six week, two-phase training starts later this month, with the second phase expected later in the year.

Currently, the group members use skills passed on from older family members or what they have learnt from others in the group or community.

Christine Kado, the leader of the group of over 25 women and girls, said the skills acquired from the training will enable them to improve product quality besides learning how to operate businesses better and sustainably.

“Sometimes we get orders with specifications that require advanced skills, which most of the group members lack. Therefore, the training by AIESEC and Beauty of Rwanda will help sharpen our craft-making abilities to make competitive handicrafts for the export market besides helping us to manage our businesses better,” she said.

Though Beauty of Rwanda, UK¬-based jewellery and home décor organisation that promotes and support economic empowerment of women in Rwanda, is the group’s main buyer, they sell their handicrafts to other buyers in Kigali.

Berwa Women’s group was formed in 2006 with the objective of advancing the living standards of members.

AIESEC is comprised of students undertaking different disciplines at undergraduate level.

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