The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), has signed a Rwf45 million agreement with Kigali City Council (KCC) to support Agaseke weavers.
The weavers will be organized in cooperative societies in the city.The agreement was signed Friday between Kigali City Mayor, Aisa Kirabo Kakira, and UNIFEM regional director, Josephine Odera at the city headquarters.
According to KCC, the money is a contribution to the construction of a Rwf2 billion Agaseke house in Kigali.
The house which is under construction in Kimihurura will be a collecting centre for all finished baskets.
The funds will also be used to employ two professional workers who will help Agaseke women weavers in all the 16 cooperative societies in Kigali city to produce quality baskets that can fetch high prices on the foreign market.
Formerly, they had one employee coordinating all the cooperatives.
The women who are former city dwellers and among vulnerable groups are organized under one name: “Ihuriro Ibanga.”
Odera urged them to mobilize other women to join the project which she described as : “a poverty eradication venture.”
“UNIFEM is extremely pleased with the work you are doing,” Odera, who pledged more support in helping women develop, said.
“It is our hope that as we work on this project, more women will join to eradicate poverty in their homes.”
She observed that Agaseke has earned its name on the world market.
This is the second support UNIFEM has extended to Agaseke weavers in Kigali since its inception as a cooperative society in 2007.
Last year, they also build two kiosks in Kigali city where some of the finished baskets are collected.
“We are delighted to support Kigali in this project and we have no doubt that they will be getting more than we have offered,” she said.
On her part, Kirabo cautioned those women who have neglected Agaseke and have continued operating their small businesses on Kigali streets saying that “this is not accepted and they will be arrested once they are caught.”
“This system of having business on streets causes insecurity and poor hygiene in the city and both the business owners and buyers will be arrested once they are caught,” Kirabo cautioned.
Agaseke weaving which has about 3000 women members in Kigali has markets in USA and Japan. It is also supported by Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Imbuto Foundation and KCC.
According to Peruth Mukamusoni, the President of Ihuriro Ibanga, every member earns not less than Rwf40,000 monthly.