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Up Close & Indego

#new, #inspiration, #handmade, #impact

Our Blog #entrepreneurs

Empowering a New Generation of Entrepreneurs in Rwanda

#community, #artisans, #impact, #entrepreneurs

At Indego Africa, we believe that education is the key to long-term empowerment and social change. That’s why we provide women and youth with the training they need to build and sustain independent livelihoods.

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Since 2016, our Vocational & Business Training program has addressed a critically-needed gap in Rwanda by providing a career path in the artisan sector to 180 young people and counting! Through onsite skills training and fundamental business education, our approach not only creates jobs for youth, but also helps ensure the sustainability of artisan cooperatives across Rwanda.


Many of our partner cooperatives were originally formed by genocide survivors who are now looking to increase their production capacity and maintain the legacy of their businesses. By helping train and employ young people, these women are not only passing down their knowledge and skills, but also creating leadership and growth opportunities for a new generation of artisans. 

In 2017, we celebrated our 10th anniversary and took Indego’s success to the next level by launching a Young Leaders Academy! Modeled after our successful Leadership Academy, the Young Leaders Academy (YLA) provides graduates of our Vocational Training program in Rwanda with the advanced business and technology training they need to manage their artisan cooperatives and lead change in their communities. 

On January 10th, Indego held a joint graduation ceremony for the most recent graduates of Vocational & Business Training and the Young Leaders Academy. 

One of Indego’s Vocational Training students recited a poem about how Indego Africa helped her and her fellow graduates achieve success. “Before partnering with Indego, we had nothing in terms of weaving skills, and no real hope for a decent life in the future,” she said. “But now we live a colorful life!”

Both Vocational Training and YLA graduates are working hand-in-hand with our older artisan partners to generate economic activity at their cooperatives and in communities across Rwanda. 

“Since the beginning, Indego Africa has helped changed our lives,” said Ali and Athanas, two YLA graduates who made speeches at the ceremony. “The Young Leaders Academy is a place where we learned different skills and increased our confidence. We will apply this same confidence to our cooperative businesses and everything we do in the future.” 

We know our artisan partners have big dreams and big plans. So, what does the future hold for our graduates? 

Since the program’s launch, four new cooperatives have been formed by graduates of our Vocational & Business Training program.

·      Gahembe, a sweetgrass-weaving cooperative of 22 young women.

·      Bravers, a sweetgrass-weaving cooperative of 16 young women.

·      Sarah, a sweetgrass-weaving cooperative of 13 young women.

·      Enrico Urungano, a banana leaf-weaving cooperative of 30 young women. 

At least one member from each of these cooperatives participated in Indego’s inaugural semester of YLA, of which two graduates received scholarships to attend university in Rwanda!

Our fourth semester of Vocational Training students is off to a successful start earning income at their new banana leaf-weaving business, Enrico Urungano. This new group of weavers started producing orders for the Indego Africa collection only two months into their training- earlier than any prior semester! 

It is because of our partners’ motivation to succeed that our livelihood programs for youth in Africa have such high returns on investment. We invest in them because we have confidence in their ability to achieve (and exceed!) their goals- all they need are the resources. As 2018 kicks off, we look forward to replicating this success for more young people across Rwanda.

Stay tuned for more artisan success stories in the months ahead!


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Briar Handmade x Indego Africa: An Interview with Rachel Goode

#indegodiaries, #collaboration, #inspiring, #community, #entrepreneurs

This April, Briar Handmade founder, entrepreneur, and designer, Rachel Goode, travelled to Rwanda to meet the hardworking women artisans behind Briar and Indego’s limited-edition line of hand-embroidered baby bonnets!

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​Hand-embroidered with heart by our artisan partners at Ibaba Cooperative in Rwanda, these adorable bonnets were inspired by Indego and Briar's mutual appreciation for beautiful, handmade products.

Read our exclusive interview with Rachel below to hear more about the vision behind our collaboration and what meeting the women artisans of Ibaba meant to her and her family.

How did this partnership come about? What got you excited about the project?

Earlier last year, I was contacted by Indego Africa about a possible collaboration opportunity. After learning about Indego's mission and work, I was really compelled to make this partnership happen. I got really excited when I received some work samples and saw the impeccable handiwork of the artisans. I was blown away by the craftsmanship of the embroidery and knew how much customers would not only appreciate the product, but the story and people behind it. 

You brought your children and husband with you to Rwanda to meet these artisan. What was that like?

It was an adventure to say the least! As this collaboration began, we were on the heels of coming back from another trip with our kids and had decided that traveling with them was something we wanted to make priority. We loved that this trip would not only expose them to a completely different culture, but also show them how Briar was working globally with other women. Being a blonde, fair skinned family, we certainly turned a lot of heads while we were there! it was like we had been transported to another world; magical and beautiful in its own way. Our kids still talk about Africa every day.

What was the best part of your time in Rwanda?

Two things really stood out! First, it was pretty surreal to meet the women that were embroidering our fabric. It was so impactful to realize that what I had started three years ago out of my home had migrated across the world and was literally in the hands of women in a country that is rebuilding itself.

Also, spending time in the Akagera National Park was such a highlight for our family. It was hands-down the most fun part for the kids. You can;t beat walking along a walkway with monkeys at your fingertips, or seeing hippos playing in water 20 feet from you!

What surprised you about the artisans you met in Rwanda?

We visited several cooperatives, and the overwhelming tone in any conversation was, "Can you please bring us more work?" These women work long hours to support their families, and they truly appreciate having work sent their way! I was so surprised at how smitten they were with our kids. From hugs, to gifts, to picture-taking, their natural mothering tendencies really shined through. It was very sweet.

What's the best piece of advice you have for women entrepreneurs across the world?

Regardless of where you are in the world, having a community of women is essential. For me, it;s being in touch with other like-minded female entrepreneurs. We are so lucky in this day and age that we have social media to connect with other women; inspiration is right at our fingertips. As I've shared with other women starting businesses, it's impossible to do it on your own. Find the right people who can do what you do, but better.

What's next for Briar Handmade x Indego Africa?

I'd love to see us come out with more specialty embroidered bonnets in the future, but in the meantime, we have a brand new product making its debut this summer! We are so excited that a "Briar Basket" will be joining our Artisan collection: a hand-woven bloga (elephant grass) bassinet, perfect for little babes (wearing bonnets!). We are so excited!

Shop the collection now

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Meet The Gahembe Girls!

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

In 2016, Indego Africa launched its Vocational Training program in Rwanda for young people seeking a career path. Upon graduation, students had the option to join the cooperative they had interned with or start their own. That’s why we wanted to introduce you to 15 women from Rwanda’s Bugesera District who came together and decided to launch their very own basket weaving enterprise, Gahembe. These #bossladies took the skills they learned from participating in Indego’s Vocational Training program at other cooperatives and applied them to their brand new business venture.

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As the founding members of Gahemebe Cooperative, one of Indego’s newest and most successful partner cooperatives, these women have a lot to share. To find out what it takes to be an empowered woman, a successful entrepreneur, and a mentor to other girls, we interviewed five of Gahembe’s leading #bossladies: Violate, Claudette, Claudine, Meditrice, and Lilianne. Learn more about Indego’s Vocational Training program here and read the powerful interview below!

What does being an empowered businesswoman mean to you? 

Violate Mukazigama, 25: “I feel lucky to be an entrepreneur. I work every day and earn money to buy the things I need and save for the future. Being an empowered woman means being someone who can not only make positive changes in her own life, but can also bring positivity to the lives of others. To be empowered is to empower other people as well.”

Claudette Mukeshimana, 26: “It feels good to be able to plan for my future and use the income I earn to make decisions for myself. Being an independent, empowered woman means being a valuable part of society.”

Claudine Mukabera, 27: “I am so happy because now I can do things I wasn’t able to do before, like weaving baskets and working in a cooperative with other women. As an empowered woman, I have the knowledge and confidence to achieve the things I want in life.” 

Meditrice Tuyisabe, 26: “Being an empowered woman means being a strong woman who can not only help herself, but also help others in her community reach their goals. I feel proud to be an entrepreneur because now I am the decision maker and no longer need other people to provide everything for me.”

Lilianne Mukanshuti, 25: “It makes me happy to be an entrepreneur who has started my own business. An empowered woman means being independent, strong, and confident. Now I earn income and decide for myself how to use that income.”

What does it mean to be a good leader?

Lilianne“A good leader is a good decision maker. She always thinks about how to make positive changes for her organization.”

Violate: “To be a good leader is to be honest and disciplined. A good manager treats the people she leads as her equals, and works with them without looking for personal gain.”

Claudine:  “A good leader must be a good listener and a good manager of time. She is smart, skillful, and thoughtful, and always puts other people’s interests above her own.”

How has your partnership with Indego Africa impacted your life?

Claudette: “Before working with Indego Africa, I never believed I could weave, let alone make a business out of it. Now, I not only make money from weaving, but I also help manage Gahembe Cooperative and have plans to expand my business in the future.”

Meditrice: “I feel proud to be an entrepreneur because now I am the decision maker. I no longer need other people to provide everything for me. Partnering with Indego Africa has opened my mind and given me the courage to become an independent person who does not need to rely on other people’s income.”

Claudine:  “Joining a co-op and working together with other women has completely changed my life. There is nothing better than finding people who help you grow and using the skills you’ve learned to turn your dreams into reality.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to other women starting their own business?

Claudette: “Be creative and don’t be afraid to work hard.”

Meditrice: “Don’t be afraid to fail. Anything is possible with a willing heart.” 

Claudine:  “Be self-reliant, be confident, and always save for the future.”

Violate: “Always work hard and never get discouraged.”

Lilianne: “Think outside the box. You may be surprised by how much you can accomplish.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. These women are true inspirations to working #bossladies everywhere and we are honored to be a part of their journey. Stay tuned for more!

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Indego’s Inspiring Women: Josepha Mujawayezu

#indegodiaries, #inspiring, #entrepreneurs, #inspiringwomen

In Rwanda and Ghana, our partners are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, getting creative, and overcoming challenges to start their own businesses. We wanted to hear more from these inspiring women about what entrepreneurship means to them and why they do what they do. In the interview that follows, these trailblazing women share inside stories about their businesses (and the growing pains that come with them)—about achieving work-life balance, navigating stumbling blocks, building future goals, and finding inspiration. They also share empowering advice for other women—any age and anywhere—who are looking to make their dreams happen.

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Josepha Mujawayezu

Founder of Ngwinukorebushoke Cooperative

Rulindo, Rwanda 

Mother of seven

49 years old

“Being empowered to me means having the ability to provide for my family and myself without having to ask my husband.” 


Describe how you first came together with other women to start producing products. When was it and how did you get the idea? How did you recruit other women to join you?

I used to work alone, teaching young girls including my own daughters how to weave until other women got interested in what I was doing and approached me to teach them as well because they wanted a way to earn money. There are now 10 women. 

What is your favorite part about working alongside other women every day?

My favorite part is that I am able to continue teaching them new techniques and skills.

Do you feel that there are good opportunities in Rwanda for women? 

Yes, we have great leaders that continue to uphold and encourage women to better themselves. I feel that in my craft, women are given the opportunity to showcase and sell what we make through various expositions that take place every year. 

What is the hardest part about being a working mom and why do you do it? 

The hardest thing is having to leave my children when I go out to search for materials. Sometimes I go as far as Uganda because they are not always available here. I do it because I am their mother and it is my duty to care for them. This is my means of providing for them and their futures. 

What does it mean to be an empowered woman? 

Being empowered to me means having the ability to provide for my family and myself without having to ask my husband. I earn an income and therefore I can pay my children’s school fees, feed them, clothe them and even afford health insurance. 

What brings you joy these days?

I used to try and sell my products on the road, which is not allowed and therefore I would often get chased around by police and sometimes even arrested. I am happy now because I work from home and sell my products to Indego Africa. I do not have to hustle on the streets every day worrying about police. 

What are your goals for the future? 

I want to buy a house that is close to the road because right now my house is very far. I also want to continue paying my children’s fees until they are able to finish their university studies. 

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Bananas for Banana Leaf: Empowering Youth Through Banana-Leaf-Weaving

#indegodiaries, #youth, #impact, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

Twiyubake, which means “to rebuild ourselves” in the Kinyarwanda language, is an artisan cooperative made up of 27 women in the Kayonza province of Eastern Rwanda. An Indego Africa partner since 2008, Twiyubake specializes in the art of banana leaf weaving—making rustically beautiful handcrafted products using locally grown leaves (that they often pick themselves!)

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While we’ve been big fans of Twiyubake’s work since day one, it took a while for their products to catch on (and we sometimes struggled to get them enough orders because of it.) But that all changed last year when we launched our SS ’16 collection featuring beautiful summer beach bags & floor baskets) handmade by the ladies of Twiyubake! All of a sudden, orders began to pour in, and the artisans of Twiyubake found themselves so busy they could hardly keep up. 

That’s where our Vocational Training students came in. You might remember that earlier this year we launched a Vocational Training program for female youth in Rwanda (more on that here). The idea? Help young, unemployed women in Rwanda enter the workforce and earn sustainable income by training them in artisan skills and business management.

This semester of the program, there are nine young women training at Twiyubake Cooperative, all of whom were recruited (with the help of Twiyubake members!) from the surrounding Kayonza community. While none of these girls had previous artisan experience, they caught onto the craft of banana-leaf-weaving right away. They’re already working quickly to help Twiyubake meet their deadlines and even creating new products of their own! 

It’s been an exciting  experience for the Twiyubake leaders—President, Jacqueline Musabimana and Treasurer, Marie Josee Mukobwa—to train and mentor the younger women. As Jacqueline said:

“It’s good for me to learn how to manage people from different backgrounds and from different generations.  Before, I didn’t have experience in training young girls, only other women. The girls all work at different speeds, but I’m trying to get them to the same  level. I’m also teaching them discipline. I tell them: ‘I didn’t go to secondary school, but now, I’m the President of Twiyubake, and Indego Africa has trusted me to be your teacher. You, you have a diploma. You went to  secondary school. Think about how much you can achieve—you just have to work hard and focus.”

We also spoke with some of the young women to hear their thoughts on our Vocational Training program and on working at Twiyubake. Clarisse, one of the trainees, told us: 

“This program is very important. Right now, it is very difficult for people who finish high school to find jobs—there are no wage-paying jobs, no office jobs. People who don’t get these opportunities are left behind. This program is helping us learn skills so that right after high school, we can earn income and start working.”

Here, Clarisse touches on one of the main reasons we launched the Vocational Training program in the first place—Rwanda’s steep 63% youth underemployment rate. The trainees at Twiyubake describe dire circumstances in their communities—there are few, if any, jobs available for young women, leaving most to survive off of subsistence agriculture. Our Vocational Training is an opportunity for them to build marketable skills and establish a career path that will last them into the future. 

This program is also a great opportunity for our partner cooperatives themselves to gain new, younger members. As Jacqueline said: 

“We’re struggling because some of our members are getting older and aren’t able to work as quickly. We are really excited to train these young women and bring a new generation into our cooperative. We believe that this will improve the way our business is run and keep it going far into the future.”

By training young women and integrating them into their cooperatives, Twiyubake and other artisan businesses across Rwanda are helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of their enterprises as sources of income generation, employment, and artisan creativity for generations to come. 

Further, as young women graduate from our business training programs and improve their artisanal skills, they are building the skills to become future leaders, business-owners, and change-makers.

And guess what?! Through May 31st, we are running a special 30% off  summer accessories sale, featuring Twiyubake’s beautiful banana leaf beach bags! To shop, use code WEEKENDWIN at checkout

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Happy International Women’s Day!

#artisans, #inspiring, #indegodiaries, #impact, #entrepreneurs

Happy International Women’s Day! Today we are celebrating one of our newest artisan partners and favorite all-around-awesome woman, Josepha Mujawayezu.

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Josepha is the talented weaver behind our brand-new collection of mini raffia peace baskets. A mother of seven (!) and aspiring entrepreneur, Josepha first learned the art of weaving in the 1980s at a vocational school in Northern Rwanda. Despite her immense skill, for years she worked tirelessly on her own, struggling to scrape by with few customers for her products. 

Without a steady source of income, Josepha often resorted to peddling her products on the street, something which on several occasions got her into trouble with the police. She describes that period of her life as filled with fear—fear that the police would arrest her; fear that she would not be able to provide for her family. 
We began partnering with Josepha in the fall of 2015, and we are so excited to see how much has changed for her since then. For starters, she’s no longer working on her own. With steady orders coming in for her products, Josepha has hired and trained 10 other women to work with her. In fact, they are banding together to form a cooperative, something which Josepha hopes will get them more local (and international!) business down the line. 
Josepha is excited about all these changes too. She told us: 
I’m excited because I have been receiving orders. I no longer have to be scared of the police and am building new skills by working on different Indego Africa sample products. Plus, registering as a cooperative has helped me become more confident because I had to interact with government officials. 
Josepha is also excited to be working with other women. She enjoys training them in new artisan skills and is happy to be able to provide younger women with the economic opportunities she wishes she once had. She says she now feels empowered: 
Being empowered to me means having the ability to provide for my family and myself without having to ask my husband. I earn an income and can pay for my children’s school fees—I can feed them, clothe them and even afford health insurance. 
We are so inspired by Josepha’s years of hard work and perseverance and are happy to see them finally paying off. On International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate a woman who has not only overcome a great deal of obstacles in life, but is using her newfound opportunities to empower and uplift others. Her spirit of generosity, collaboration, and mentorship is commendable and a strong testament to the power of women working together and supporting each other. 
Cheers to Josepha and to women around the world working towards better futures and lifting each other up along the way!

To shop Josepha's hand woven products, click here

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Introducing…Vocational Training for Youth in Rwanda!

#community, #impact, #education, #entrepreneurs, #vocationaltraining

In Rwanda, only 8% of young adults go to college. College tuition fees are high and, for many struggling families and individuals, the need for immediate income often outweighs the potential long-term benefits of higher education. Many of Rwanda’s youth go straight from high school and into workforce. Some go even earlier.

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When they do, they find themselves without job skills, searching for employment in an economy with few wage-earning jobs on the market. Where does this all lead? A not-so-great 63% youth underemployment rate throughout the country. 

That’s where we want to help. Given the economic landscape for youth in Rwanda, there is a pressing need to equip young people—and especially young women, as they are less likely to be formally employed than men—with marketable skills to help them enter the workforce. So we put our heads together and came up with an idea – to create a brand-new Vocational Training program designed to address this exact challenge! 

Launched on February 8th, our six-month-semester Vocational Training program provides underprivileged young women in Rwanda with artisan skills training and business education to help them improve their livelihoods and achieve financial independence. 

How does it all work? Here’s the scoop: three days a week, 45 young women learn artisan skills at five of our partner cooperatives. The lucky five this semester? Twiyubake (banana leaf weaving); Ejo Hazaza (beading); Abasangiye (sewing); Imirasire and Covanya (both sweetgrass weaving).  

The other two days a week, the young women gather in Kigali to take our Basic Business Training course where they learn fundamental business skills like bookkeeping, budgeting, quality control, marketing, and technology.

By combining artisan skills training with business education, our Vocational Training program will help young women in Rwanda achieve long-term economic security and prosperity. At the end of each six-month cycle, our goal is for the trainees to have the option to either join the cooperatives as full-time members, having mastered the skills necessary to produce products for local and international markets, or to start businesses of their own.

The young ladies participating this semester were all chosen from the local communities around our partner cooperatives. 89% of them currently do not earn income and the remaining 11% work odd jobs that do not earn steady or substantial pay. While they all graduated from high school, none were able to continue on to college because their families couldn’t afford it.

Therefore, they are eager to take advantage of this opportunity to gain valuable job skills. As one woman, Dancille (Imirasire Cooperative) enthusiastically stated, 

“I hope to learn how to weave baskets and how to run a business so I can start my own one day and employ others.” 

Our Vocational Training program is not only valuable to the participating trainees, but also to our partner cooperatives themselves. Most of our artisan partners are survivors of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and the age demographics of their cooperatives are getting progressively older. They are excited about the opportunity to train and incorporate younger women in order to ensure the longevity and sustainability of their businesses in the long-run. This, in turn, creates opportunities for younger women to rise up as leaders, grow their cooperatives, and help generate economic activity and opportunity in their communities.

We are so excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for these young women as they seek to build brighter futures for themselves and for generations to come. They are motivated, ambitious, entrepreneurial, and ready for action. As one young woman, Olive (Twiyubake Cooperative), kindly noted: 

“Thank you Indego Africa for thinking about the youth and helping us support ourselves by learning new skills. I am ready and excited to put the knowledge I am receiving into practice.”

To support our Vocational Training and provide life-changing opportunities for young women in Rwanda, click here

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Meet The Graduating Class

#artisans, #inspiring, #impact, #leadership academy, #education, #entrepreneurs

We are so proud of the first graduating class of our Leadership Academy! After six months of advanced business & leadership training, these 25 talented & ambitious artisans are off to do great things (including opening a store together in Kigali!).

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As we welcome in our newest class of 25 students, we want to take a moment to hear from some of our a-m-a-z-i-n-g recent grads about their time at the Academy. Below they weigh in on this past semester, sharing favorite classes, proudest moments, and what they’ll miss the most.

Immaculee, Agatako Cooperative

I enjoyed the class on defining leadership because it helped us understand the qualities a good leader should have, which I believe will enable us to work well with other members of the cooperatives.

Jacqueline, Twiyubake Cooperative

I was so proud when I was able to teach the lesson on inventory to the rest of my colleagues at Twiyubake because I understood the topic so well. Being able to share this knowledge and put it to use was a huge moment for our cooperative.

Annociata, Abasangiye Cooperative

I’ll miss our break times because this was when people shared their stories. I found them all so interesting.

Anne Marie, Cocoki Cooperative

My proudest moment was being able to use a Chromebook for the first time, and use the Internet for research.

Claudine, Imirasire Cooperative

I will miss the teaching most. We got thorough explanations of each topic to ensure that everyone understood.

Lenatha, Imirasire Cooperative

My favorite class was the one on filing and safe-guarding the cooperatives’ records because in my cooperative, we hardly kept our documents but after this lesson, we learned how to file and keep every document especially important ones like our rent agreement.

Immaculee, Ibyishimo Cooperative

My proudest moment was when Rosine {The Leadership Academy’s Head Teacher} told me that I had leadership qualities and that I spoke like a leader when giving a speech.

Epiphanie - Ejo Hazaza Cooperative

I enjoyed the class on working with banks because I learned how to ask for a loan and how to manage the cooperative’s money well.

Illuminee – Covanya Cooperative

I will miss being around the other students. They are like my family.

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing the inside scoop from some of our impressive Leadership Academy graduates! We can’t wait to share what they do next as they take the lead in their cooperatives & communities. Stay tuned for more insider info soon-to-come on our newest class of entrepreneurial all-stars whose Academy semester has only just begun…

The Leadership Academy is generously supported by the Ann B. Zeis Scholarship Fund.

Click here to learn more

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Two decades after the genocide, empowering female entrepreneurs in Rwanda

#artisans, #inspiring, #community, #entrepreneurs, #impact, #leadership academy

April 7th, 2015 marks the 21st commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, when more than 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. Indego Africa is a nonprofit social enterprise empowering Rwandan women to lead their country forward.

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originally posted on


“Inventory, bookkeeping, budgeting, accounting…”

She pauses to catch her train of thought.

“…marketing, saving, taking out loans…I am learning to be a businesswoman.”

Elizabeth is a student at Indego Africa’s Leadership Academy – an innovative six-month training program in Kigali, Rwanda dedicated to building the next generation of the country’s powerful female entrepreneurs and leaders.

While just over two decades ago Rwanda experienced a brutal genocide, today it is one of the rising stars of Africa – thanks, in large part, to its women. Women have been at the forefront of Rwanda’s development, playing a crucial role in the country’s economic, social, political (and physical) reconstruction.

Indego Africa – a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 2007 – works at the heart of this development. We partner with more than 800 female artisans across 22 different cooperatives – a form of enterprise promoted by the Rwandan government after the genocide to drive economic growth. However, despite the government’s support, for many years artisans struggled to make end’s meet – lacking markets in which to sell their goods and the education needed to effectively run their businesses.

At Indego Africa, we seek to address these issues of access and opportunity. We provide female artisans with sustainable income by selling their beautifully handcrafted products around the world. We help them to become empowered businesswomen through our education programs – the hallmark of which is our newly established Leadership Academy.

Launched on October 1st, 2014, our Leadership Academy is the only free-of-cost advanced business training program for women in Rwanda. Class meets twice a week for a full day and consists of practical and interactive lessons, developed by our own staff and Board of Directors members.

An experienced and passionate team of Rwandan teachers leads the class through each lesson, facilitating student-led group projects, field trips, and guest lectures from successful local entrepreneurs and visiting global thought leaders. The goal of these courses is to help women develop the life-long knowledge and skills they need to grow their own businesses and become successful entrepreneurs and leaders.

Let’s look at Vestine’s story for an example of what the Leadership Academy can mean for women in Rwanda. Vestine was 11 years old when the genocide erupted, and when it ended, she was forced to drop out of school to support her remaining family members. For many years she struggled to survive, and when she was diagnosed with HIV in 2007, she began to lose hope for her future.

Now a member of Ejo Hazaza (an Indego Africa partner cooperative since 2012) and a student at our Leadership Academy, Vestine is emerging as an inspired entrepreneur – not only building a brighter future for herself and her family, but also for her community. She says: “There is a water problem in my village. At the Leadership Academy, I learned how to identify a need and create a business plan to fill it. I am now saving money to start selling water to help people in my neighborhood.”

Vestine is one of many women using her new knowledge and skills to make a difference. Another student is using the lessons she’s learned to grow her business – a café – and hire three new employees. Yet another plans to become a consultant and offer advice to other business-owners in her community. All of our students have begun to make improvements to the organization and management of their artisan cooperatives. They are creating better-run, more productive businesses, which, in turn, enable all of our partners to take on more clients, receive more orders, and earn more income.

As we approach the graduation ceremony of the Leadership Academy’s inaugural class on April 30th 2015, we are thrilled and proud to see just how far our students have come. Not only are they driving economic progress in their communities, but they are also emerging as powerful mentors and role models for others – setting new precedents for how much women can achieve in Rwanda.

When asked why she believes the Leadership Academy is important, Elizabeth says: “It has to do with the history of Rwanda. In the past, women couldn’t run businesses or have the same jobs men had. Today, we are confident and ready to take the lead.”

We believe that our students will do exactly that: take the lead in their communities and spread economic growth, social progress, and hope across their country.

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Thanks Google!

#impact, #leadership academy, #entrepreneurs, #community, #education

As the graduation ceremony for the first class of our Leadership Academy approaches on April 30th, 2015, we want to say a huge THANK YOU to Google for helping to make this first semester such a success!

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Google donated Chromebooks to our Leadership Academy in order to provide students with the critical access to technology they need to become more effective businesswomen. Over the past six months, students have learned how to use these computers to improve the organization, management, and growth potential of their cooperatives. For example, they’ve used the Chromebooks in lessons about budgeting and forecasting, cost-tracking, sales data analysis, and researching local market opportunities.

Given that women in the developing world often experience unequal access to technology, we are deeply grateful to Google for doubling down on their mission to making the world’s information “universally accessible and useful” to all. 

Equipped with new technological skills and six months of advanced business training, our artisan partners will be able to grow their own businesses and thrive as awesome, independent entrepreneurs. Thanks again, Google!

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Meet The Entrepreneurs

#artisans, #inspiring, #inspiration, #impact, #entrepreneurs

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the incredible entrepreneurs we partner with – their innovation, creativity, perseverance, and resourcefulness. These ambitious ladies are capitalizing on newfound opportunities, determined to create brighter futures for themselves and their families. They’re saving up money, taking out loans, and using the business skills they’ve learned to take a risk and start something new. We’ll be sharing their stories all month long – hope you enjoy them!

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Immaculee, Shikama Ukore

Tie-dye maven and block-printer extraordinaire, Immaculee used the money she saved from Indego Africa orders to install a water tank at her home where she now runs a successful water business. On any given day, you can see more than 20 people lining up to fill their jugs with the good stuff. 

Daphrose, Ingenzi Knit Union

Daphrose owns a cafe in a university building in Kigali where she sells snacks and school supplies to students. She got the idea to launch her own business through Indego Africa's education programs, which she says taught her "to be fearless." Now a student at the Leadership Academy, Daphrose is developing innovative ideas to help her business grow.

Juliet, Imirasire

In addition to being a farmer, master weaver, and mother of ten (!), Juliet sells fruit from her garden at a local market twice a week. Bananas, mangoes, avocados, and pineapples…she’s got it all.

Vestine, Ejo Hazaza 

Vestine is an aspiring entrepreneur eager to use the lessons she’s learned at the Leadership Academy to make a difference in her community. She says: “There is a water problem in my neighborhood. At the Leadership Academy, I learned how to identify a need and create a business plan to fill it. I am now saving money to start selling water to help people in my village.”

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