Twoyears ago, Mukamana could not afford most of the basics of life. Mukamana had resigned her life to fate and always wondered how she would cater for her children and give them a descent life. But luck came knocking as other women in her area who were experiencing similar challenges mobilized and formed a group of weavers and artisans. For Mukamana and other 41 members of Urumuri Co-operative in Cyanika Sector, Nyamagabe District, that marked a new dawn in their lives and those of their families.
However, the two years have proved pivotal for Mukamana and the group members as the co-operative is a key producer of handicrafts like baskets, tablemats, bags, sandals and earrings, as well as other ornaments. The development has improved their household income and lifted them out of abject poverty, with many now owning assets and other income-generating projects.
Together we can do more
Gene Rosa Mukanyindo, the chairperson of the co-operative, said the district gave them a Rwf13 million grant, which they used to construct offices and a workshop and showroom. “Next year, we are projecting to earn Rwf4 million from product sales. However, we have been earning between Rwf500,000 and Rwf1 million per year because of lack of market…We sell all our products within the district,” Mukanyindo said.
She added that some members of the co-operative used to depend on their spouses for everything, but can now provide for their needs. The members are working together to improve their earnings and develop their households.
“When we were working individually, we could hardly get enough to cater for our families’ needs. But ever since we formed the co-operative and started working as a group, the situation has improved,” she said.
Income generating projects
Francine Mukamana, a widow, said she is now able to provide all her children’s basic needs without difficulty.
“I have so far bought two cows and four pigs, and I’m optimistic that more is yet to come,” she said, adding that she previously led a miserable life and had feared joining the co-operative thinking she needed to pay membership fees first.
For Theophile Hakizimana, another member, the idea of working together in co-operative has enabled her to fend for family of nine with ease. “I have also built a five-bed room house and I am assured of a source of income as a weaver,” she said. She added that all her children go to good school.
Promote local products
Hakizimana called on local leaders to join government efforts aimed at encouraging people to use locally-made products.
District pledges more support
Phillibert Mugisha, the Nyamagabe District mayor, said the district has trained members to improve their handicraft-making skills, and encouraged them to embrace a savings culture.
“We also encourage residents to buy local products and we will continue to support them financially,” Mugisha said.