From zero to millionaire: How Stephanie benefitted ActionAid’s empowerment program
MUKANTWARI Stephanie, a woman entrepreneur in Karongi District lives successful life as business person whose properties are equivalent to more than 15 million Rwandan francs.
Stephanie who also served as sector’s counselor, has been ActionAid Rwanda’s right holders since 2008 when she joined the women group that was supported by ActionAid. Through the empowerment program, Stephanie and other group members were trained on different matters such as entrepreneurship, modern agriculture, women and child rights among others.
“Before joining the group that was being supported by ActionAid, I was not sure of what to do and how to do it. They (ActionAid Rwanda) trained us in different field such as entrepreneurship, designing small projects for income generation as well as cooperative management. Furthermore, we were facilitated to do learning visits where we went to Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. From seeing what other women were doing in different countries, I was encouraged, and decided to also start my own project, though similar to my husband’s, the pottery project that makes clay products.
In fact, I improved a lot in business as well as in leadership skills. After 2 years working with ActionAid, I was elected to be in Murundi sector’s council and in charge of social affairs in National Women’s Council at sector level. All these ActionAid’s interventions are the backbone of my achievements.” Said Stephanie.
She was inspired by her husband who had been a potter for a long time. She applied the skills acquired from the training and started her own pottery business which produces kitchen and dining utensils that are produced from clay.
“Using skills acquired from training, I successfully run my business and started with pottery where I could produce cups, plates, jugs etc. I Started attending to some exhibitions and open days supported by ActionAid and my products were appreciated by many people. That’s how I started growing and now I have six wholesales shops that I regularly supply my clay products, including Institute of National Museums of Rwanda and other individuals who are interested in these products.” Added Stephanie.
Due to ActionAid Rwanda’s women empowerment program, she has gained leadership skills and confidence and now she is a leader of Urumuri Cooperative of 420 members.
Urumuri is cooperative engaged in agriculture, Voluntary saving and loan that has benefited women in Murundi sector where one member is entitled to a credit up to 300,000 Rwf without providing collateral security.
Women are benefitting from the cooperative not only in financial services but also in home care management. ActionAid has been helping women smallholder farmers to get enough production from agriculture to feed their families and for markets. They were supported with livestock like cows, goats and pigs that are proving them with organic manure, thus promoting agroecology.
“My business has tremendously increased since I started working with ActionAid Rwanda. Apart from pottery business, I have got a small shop in my community that sells food stuff and different things needed by the community. I have also managed to buy myself a car (Pick-up) that helps me to transport my clay products to my clients outside our community and my personal car.” Said Stephanie.
On addition to the car, I have small three houses in the center that I rent out, and also a plot of land where I have planted some trees for selling among others that are now equivalent to more than 15 million Rwandan Francs, all thanks to ActionAid Rwanda’ interventions towards empowering rural women.