Products made by women on display at a past expo. The New Times

The contest was spearheaded by an international NGO, Oxfam, in conjunction with Duterimbere Micro Finance and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a movement of women working for social and economic change around the world, to encourage entrepreneurship among women.

It was a stiff contest as all of them presented convincing projects.

The women pitched their ideas before a panel of judges at the district composed of a representative from the National Women Council, National Youth Council, and representative of the Private Sector.

The winners, first, and second runners-up all received cash prizes.

The overall winners from each district received Rwf300,000, the second runners up received Rwf200,000, while the third runner-up received Rwf150,000.

They will also receive training on project planning.

The winners prepared bankable projects which they will be helped to implement through funding from Duterimbere Microfinance.

The women are reportedly guaranteed loans from Duterimbere Microfinance at 10 percent interest rate, to implement their projects.

Oxfam provided the guarantee fund of USD 100,000 deposited in Duterimbere Microfinance.

Dativa Mukeshimana, the Executive Secretary of Duterimbere, told Business Times the competition is part of efforts to promote women entrepreneurship in order to contribute to the improvement of living conditions of Rwandan women, through economic empowerment.

The winners speak out

Handcraft materials on display at a past expo in Kigali. The New Times

Odette Nizeyimana, the first female carpenter in her home district of Nyabihu said she learnt the skill from her male counterparts at a teen age of 15.

“When I realised that boys were collecting wood and turn it into good products, like tools, chairs, I decided to learn it’’ Nizeyimana said.

The 22-year old says has managed to train other three girls, how to make furniture.

Anonciata Uwamahoro, another winner from Kinihira sector, Rulindo District, started by making energy saving stoves.

She then initiated a cotton-covered basket known as ‘peace maker’, which keeps food warm. She also started a women group which makes arts and crafts materials especially Agaseke, and has taught over 50 women how to make the baskets.

She attended training in hairdressing and has set up a saloon in Kinihira,

The 39-year-old has mobilised village women and men to form two associations involved in weaving and making energy saving stoves.

“We want to expand our business because we get buyers from DR Congo and Burundi,’’ Uwamahoro said.

Libertha Mujawimana, the other woman recognised, started small making table clothes.

But now makes jewellery, including bangles, rings, and ear rings sold in various shops, including Kigali.

The 43-year-old has managed to build her own house, including a commercial house in Musanze town.

Dancilla Mukangerageze, 50, the challenges of raising seven children, including four adopted orphans was the driving force.

She started by setting up a beehive, in 1999 from which she managed to save Rwf600,000 within two years operation.

Mukangerageze expanded her bee keeping business to 20 beehives, and used the savings to invest in poultry business.

She now boasts of 1500 layers and supplies eggs to different hotels in Kigali from which she earns over one million Francs per month.

Mukangerageze says has managed to construct a commercial house and bought her husband a bicycle to help her monitor their business.
Margarita Muhayimana, from Bushaki sector, also in Rulindo District produces finished products, including bread, cakes, pan-cake from potatoes flour.

“I have over Rwf900,000 on my account, I have managed to bring clean water to my home and neighbours have benefited. I have also established a biogas plant in my home,’’

By Bonny Mukombozi, The New Times


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