Building Better Futures by Working Together
District and Province: Nyamagabe, Southern Province
Year of AK Graduation: 2013
With their Akazi Kanoze certificates in their hands, Andre Munyemana (33) and Francine Niragire (32), knew that their stories of self-empowerment and entrepreneurship had just begun. In the five years since they completed training, they have started and grown their own businesses, working to improve their livelihoods.
Andre, a pig and chicken farmer, got the idea and support for his business through Akazi Kanoze training. Through the modules on saving and entrepreneurship, he gained the skills and inspiration to start his own business. He chose to work as a pig farmer because his area is well-known for pigs, and by saving money from his transport fees, he bought his first pig.
Francine owns a boutique that sells different groceries and beers. Even before Akazi Kanoze training, she had begun to save for herself. Therefore, when she learned about financial fitness and how to grow a business with minimal resources, she was empowered with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to open her boutique.
While both Andre and Francine have done well to manage these resources, they have also benefit from the internal saving and lending groups that were created as part of Akazi Kanoze training. In this group of 12 people, which meets every week, all members contribute to the group savings, and help each other with loans to grow their businesses when necessary. When they knew they needed more capital, they applied together for a loan from a microfinance institution they were connected to through Akazi Kanoze Access, and their loan application was accepted.
When she learned about financial fitness and how to grow a business with minimal resources, she was empowered with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to open her boutique.
Their learnings from Akazi Kanoze training were instrumental in them receiving this loan. Part of the loan application asked for a business plan, and due to the financial principles they had learned in training, they were each able to create and showcase a detailed business strategy for what types of crops or groceries they will work with, and how they will slowly grow their business.
Through the financial principles they learned in training, each group member has been very disciplined in their loan repayments, which has qualified the group for even larger loans, such that the group is currently receiving 4,800,000 RwF in loans. They overcame the challenges of needing collateral and certification by working together and using their collective resources. They are successful because they trust each other.
Although they have a robust credit line, they still face some challenges in their business. Andre needs to find additional foods and medicine for his livestock, which often isn’t available in their area. Francine has to travel long distances to purchase the goods she later sells in her stores, and these travel costs reduce her profit.
They overcame the challenges of needing collateral and certification by working together and using their collective resources. They are successful because they trust each other.
However, Akazi Kanoze Access has remained as a strong support system for these entrepreneurs, even five years after their graduation, and has helped them overcome the many obstacles of business. AKA holds various workshops and industries days throughout Rwanda, and invites their youth entrepreneurs to meet with other businesspeople so that they can share stories and create a professional network. AKA regularly checks in with these entrepreneurs to see how their business is growing, and provide any tips or advice if necessary.
Because of the dedication of these Akazi Kanoze graduates, complemented with the support structure of AKA, they will be able to continue to grow their businesses and improve their standards of living. Andre will be able to buy more livestock to grow his farm, and Francine will achieve her goal of operating two separate shops, one for groceries and the other for beers. Through their efforts and Akazi Kanoze training, they will join their fellow youth around the country in creating a self-reliant generation.
Note: The interview for this article was translated with the help of Pierre Canisus Niyonteze, an Entrepreneurship Department Field Officer for Akazi Kanoze Access.