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.
As the founding members of Gahembe 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!