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Stephania: A Mega Business Owner who couldn’t afford Soap

Stephania shows off some of her artisan crockery pottery

Stephania: A Mega Business Owner who couldn’t afford Soap

Stephania Mukantwari is a 57-year-old Woman, and a mother of five children. She is a member of Abadahigwa Cooperative. She is a resident of Murundi sector, Karongi district. She joined the cooperative in 2008.

She was living in abject poverty. She was very vulnerable. She was un happy and sad.

“I couldn’t afford even soap to do laundry or bathe, or even salt. I could hardly afford any basic need. I depended on my husband to provide all my needs and my children’s needs. It was hard for him too as he was also just surviving with hardly any sustainable source of income,” she miserably narrates.

Stephania Mukantwari is a 57-year-old Woman, and a mother of five children. She is a member of Abadahigwa Cooperative. She is a resident of Murundi sector, Karongi district. She joined the cooperative in 2008.

She was living in abject poverty. She was very vulnerable. She was un happy and sad.

“I couldn’t afford even soap to do laundry or bathe, or even salt. I could hardly afford any basic need. I depended on my husband to provide all my needs and my children’s needs. It was hard for him too as he was also just surviving with hardly any sustainable source of income,” she miserably narrates.

Life was unbearable for her, but she had to bring her self together and take care of her dependants, her children. Her relationship with her husband was on the verge of ending too. He was abusive.

“My husband used to beat me up. He would hurl insults at me and used not to value me. Life was sad. He was the only bread winner at home too which I think made the situation worse whenever I would ask him for any of the basic needs that we didn’t have at home,” Mukantwari recalls.

She had no source of income as she was a stay home mother whose life revolved around house chores that included fetching water, collecting firewood, cooking, doing laundry, taking care of the children, cleaning and so many more. The Unpaid Care Work was taking its toll on her too, it was draining and that was life as she knew it then….

Mukantwari and her husband were also living in a tiny one roomed rented house with her husband and five children.

 Productive Work; Stephania’s Break through ………...

One of the areas where ActionAid Rwanda operates in, is Karongi district, Stephania’s home town. While ActionAid was sensitizing and supporting women to join cooperatives in Karongi, Stephania was among those women.

She joined Abadahigwa Cooperative in 2008. Through the cooperative she benefited from training on women rights, cooperative management, income generating activities, project management and many more.

She gained knowledge and skills through cooperative trainings. She then started a business where she would get local brew from brewers, sell it off, make some profit and then pay back her suppliers. Stephania continued with this business for a year while saving some money too.

Through her savings she was able to get start-up capital to implement another business idea. She bought a moto cycle that was transporting people as business. She continued to be saving and decided to now venture into another business.

Stephania’s husband had pottery skills. She then decided to venture into a pottery business and involve her husband as well. She got a loan from the bank to inject into the business. She currently runs a factory that makes crockery or tableware out of clay.

“Today I own a factory that molds crockery such as cups, plates, trays and candle stand among others. We also manufacture tiles and bricks among other things.My business is growing,” she happily retorts.

Stephania’s Business……worth over 20 Million Rwandan Francs!

“My pottery business is worth over 20 Million Rwandan Francs as of today. I have employed over 15 people from my community, in my factory. I work together with my husband who also does molding for some of our products. My husband supervises the technical work while I deal with marketing and sales and looking for more clients,” she adds.

Stephania and her husband are now a happy couple. Their children are happy too. The husband no longer abuses her. They can afford enough salt and soap unlike before!

“I have been able to cater to my children’s scholastic needs and two of them have now graduated from University. My husband now respects me and values my opinions. I was able to buy a car to use for business too. I have livestock too. I am so grateful for all the trainings and empowerment I received from ActionAid and I believe many women’s lives will be transformed too through ActionAid work,” she states merrily.

Stephania alongside other 29 women, is still a member of Abadahigwa Cooperative supported by ActionAid Rwanda and she also supports in empowering other women in her community. She is no longer a victim of Unpaid Care Work but engages in productive work.