BY FLORENCE MUTESI
It is hard to find businesses operated in homes. But these days, because of urbanisation, there are a number of Rwandans who prefer to operate from home or on their verandas instead of renting office space.
The thought of minimizing costs and not being troubled for both house and office rent is becoming the norm today. Rwanda encourages job makers rather than job seekers. It is better to be self-employed sometimes.
Someone in control of their own job is the best scenario. There are two things: Paradise or else. And, the best is when you have tried it.
It is unfortunate that when Rwandans think of businesses, they think of supermarkets where they will get merchandise from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Burundi. They never think of businesses that are value additions, fetching them more profits.
The country’s bakeries are numbered. If small capital businesses like bakeries are opened in homes, products will be cheap due to cheap inputs. The only thing needed is to identify what is needed in bakeries. You make cakes, bread, and other wheat floor products. Home-based service delivery is also important.
Most Rwandans would rather be in their homes rather than be creative and get what by being own boss. They will always wait for the office work or white collar jobs.
Home based business
Jane Kabera has been in Rwanda for two years. Originally from Uganda, and a mother of two children says she was trained in sociology at Kyambogo University in Uganda, but has a vision of being self employed.
“It seems like my husband does not understand what am telling him, which weakens me a little bit, but I do not think I will have to do what other Rwandans do,” she says.
She says she feels like baking bread, cakes and chapatis, but still faces community hardship. She wonders why there is no one doing such from home to supply supermarkets and shops.
“At last my husband and I have decided that it would be best if I planned well and made what I have been bagging him for, but it was after hustling,” Kabera explains.
Kabera gives examples of the successful people in such businesses. She says it is such an encouraging thing to have work to do from home. It makes a person have time to control house work.
Kabera is a house wife with no job because jobs are scarce in Rwanda. A large number of graduates are on the streets of Kigali in search of jobs. What sustains the family is the monthly salary of the husband.
It is not easy for the family to entirely depend on the monthly salary in the expensive countries like Rwanda. A doctor recently told me something amazing. He said someone capable of living in Rwanda can live in other posh countries like the United States and Europe. He said Rwanda is as classy as those other countries.
Kabera also cannot imagine the way she stays at home from Monday to Monday without any thing to do. Moreover she needs to eat, clothes, and other life requirements. Currently she manages a family retail shop which according to her is not what she wants to do.
She needs money to work on her weekly styled hair, her nails have to be manicured, her facial image has to be carefully made, and her clothes have to be those suiting a married woman. Kabera is so considerate; she believes that a man who has to take care of the children and himself wouldn’t be burdened by a big woman who can twist life out for an earning. She feels there is no excuse for leading such an idle life.
“We cannot all get the white collar jobs; we have to go in for the blue collar jobs too, especially if we are to ensure some income and minimize the number of idle people in the country,” she says.
She says working is not about having an office; it is about doing something to earn you money. Kabera explains there are few people in the country who take owning a business so slight. Kabera says such people get disappointed when they are told that someone has an office in a living room or bedroom.
Kabera says she is not worried about people’s attitudes. She is concerned with being a mother who cannot provide a biscuit to her child at the exact time they need it. She says if she is to respond positively to the child’s demand, she must wait for the husband and request for money to buy the child what it needs. She does it not on the exact time the child needed it. “It is hurting; I am like a disabled person who cannot do anything by themselves. I don’t like that,” she confesses.
She says she should not entirely depend on her husband. “My husband has no problem about it, but I am not easy about it. Before my husband gave me a go ahead, I could make him unsettled many times with the same complain,” Kabera recalls.
Kabera says her husband will like it when she begins the business. During holidays, nephews and nieces will have work to do, and no one will stay home and be bored. She says it will make her children active throughout their lives.
Justine Zamukosha, mother of five, is happily working with the husband next to their home, under a tree in the compound. It is not frequent to come across people working and controlling housework. Zamukosha and her husband work together.
Zamukosha gives a steel look into the livelihood. At a certain time, you realize the good time of your home surrounding a personal business. Her experience is not of loss but rather encouraging.
Zamukosha owns a small fruit stand in front of the house. She and her husband are tailors from the same place in Kacyiru. Zamukosha sells items while her husband sews clients’ clothes in the living room.
Zamukosha and her husband got the idea to work from home because Zamukosha’s wanted to be near her children. She says she was running up and down as a hawker, getting home late and getting exhausted.
“I can now supervise my children, and nurture them,” she says. “For example, I know when they should get home after school, what they are doing at home at a given time and make them to rest during day. I take pleasure in my work because I come and look at my husband as he sews for some time, sit here with him, sell these items and get into the house when need be. We also pay rent for one house only,” she says.
Beforehand, Zamukosha was selling fruits and yellow bananas from a basket in Remera. She was hiding from the police. She now invests all her energy on the business around her house that equips her neighbouring families with everything.
“My neighbours do not have to go to the main road for the items I have. In fact, they used to have it rough, moving to the main for just simple things like these,” she recalls.
She says part of the reasons they had to start the business in the area was the lack of things people faced around. “Because of that establishment, operating from home became a priority because we thought about it for some time and decided to fully utilize our house surrounding,” she added.