From selling wild flowers, former house-help now a proud employer

While many young urban people walk the streets searching for white collar jobs, Yvette Mukandutiye, 24, wakes up every morning and heads to Nyabugogo swamp looking for wild flowers to sell.
Mukandutiye cut a niche in selling flowers from Nyabugogo and Karuruma swamps. (Seraphine Habimana)
Mukandutiye cut a niche in selling flowers from Nyabugogo and Karuruma swamps. (Seraphine Habimana)

While many young urban people walk the streets searching for white collar jobs, Yvette Mukandutiye, 24, wakes up every morning and heads to Nyabugogo swamp looking for wild flowers to sell.

After dropping out of school in O-Level due to lack of fees following the death of her parents, Mukandutiye worked as a house-help for many years hoping to raise money and return to school, but failed.

The wages she earned could not enable her fulfill her dream of attaining university education. 

“I was interested in business studies, but my dream ended after the loss of my parents,” Mukandutiye said.

As a house-help, she earned a paltry Rwf7,000 per month. 

“Whenever I thought about my future, I became hopeless because I did not see where to start from. I had no close relatives to help and no savings,” she said.

Much as she was not happy with her pay, working as a housemaid was Mukandutiye’s only option at the time.

Starting out

In 2010, Mukandutiye ventured into the world of business—selling flowers—after being inspired by friends who were already in that line of business. 

Her capital was Rwf30,000 that she had saved from her monthly salary. This money, she said, enabled her buy packaging materials for flowers. 

“That’s how I joined the business of selling flowers,” Mukandutiye said.

Today, the resident of Kimisagara Sector, Nyarugenge District, earns not less than Rwf100,000 per month.

“I had friends who were selling flowers in Nyabugogo who inspired me to quit my job of a house maid and venture into selling flowers in order to be self-employed,” she said.

As a self-employed person, Mukandutiye said she can now get money without having to depend on someone. 

For this reason, she feels empowered to live a life free of stress and manipulation because she is no longer vulnerable.

“This is the best thing I have achieved in my life. From being a housemaid to selling flowers feels like living in paradise to me.”

Mukandutiye did not only create a job for herself. She is also employing three workers to help her with daily work of loading and offloading. 

They are each paid Rwf30,000 per month.

For Mukandutiye, a typical day starts with a trip to either Karuruma or Nyabugogo swamp—her main source of flowers. 

After collecting flowers from the swamps, she does the cleaning, packaging and watering to keep them fresh for sell.

“That is my routine activity and I am proud of it,” she said with a smile. 

She sells a bouquet at between Rwf5,000 and Rwf7,000.

Advice

“There are girls in our country who are jobless. I advise them to be creative and innovative,” Mukandutiye  said, adding that she is ready to share her skills.

“I have experience and skills in packaging flowers and watering that I can share with fellow women.”

Mukandutiye advised women to strive to be family breadwinners. 

“When a woman brings good income to the family, earnings increase leading to development and hence peace at home,” Mukandutiye said.

She advised against despising jobs. 

“A bad job leads to a good job. There is no need to despise jobs—one has to work aiming for success.”

The future

“My dream is about being creative and self employed in line with the government programme of Hanga Umurimo,” she said. 

Hanga Umurimo (create a job) is a government-sponsored programme under the Ministry of Trade and Industry aimed at empowering the youth to create own jobs as a way of fighting unemployment.

Djuma Mushimiyimana, one of her employees, says working with Mukandutiye has helped him secure a reliable source of income to provide for his family.

“Self employment is good. I admire the way Mukandutiye draws her work plan. She is very hard working,” Mushiyimana said.

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