News Column

Former School Dropout Found Success in Business

August 1, 2014

Triphomus Muyagu

In 2011, unable to pay her school fees, Samilia Niyigena, a resident of Kabaya sector, Ngorolero district, dropped out of school from senior six. Unemployed, she lived in poverty.

But her life was transformed when she secured a loan of Frw 200,000 from Umuntanguha Microfinance Bank and ventured into the business of selling clothes.

From selling clothes she earned Frw 3 million, and opened a shop that sells a variety of items. In a period of three years, her capital assets have accumulated to Frw 10 million.

"I remember when I dropped from school, I had no job. In that very year, I got married, my life became hard with much suffering, as my husband was also jobless. The day I got access to finance, my life changed. Working together with my husband, we can afford basic needs at home; we have never suffered ever since we started our business. What we want, we get it," Niyigena, now a mother of one, said.

"Prior to getting a loan, we had no collateral security. I told my husband to tell my mother in- law to lend us her house as collateral, and she agreed to give us the house. We presented it to the bank, and we got the loan. We have paid back and our business is developing," Niyigena added.

Niyigena and her husband used to rent housing, but now they own their own home worth about Frw 4 million. In addition to running their shop, they also practice crop agriculture, growing beans, bananas, and Irish potatoes on about two hectares of land.

"Financial literacy leads to development," says Niyigena.

Niyigena now can afford to pay school fees for her younger sister in secondary school.

With her husband as a teacher, Niyigena runs the business herself. She noted that though they have moved a step economically, there are some challenges. Weather affects their crops, and there is much competition.

Niyigena advised fellow women in the country to work hard and get access to financial institutions. "A woman is not for sitting at home; she has ability to work and contribute to the development of the family. If you sit and a man works alone, when he earns and you're not earning, he can easily disrespect you. What a man does a woman can also do it," Niyigena said.

"Rwandans should always value developmental opportunities the government provides to them. The only way to escape poverty is to work with banks. If you work with financial institutions well, you get all the money you want. With the trainings and workshops I got from financial institutions, I am able to manage the loan," Niyigena added.

Recently, the report from the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) indicated a target of having 80% of Rwandans accessing financial services by 2017 and 90% by 2020.

Apart from that, the National Bank of Rwanda has doubled formal inclusion from 21% to 42% and reduced total exclusion from 52% to 28% between 2008 and 2012.

Niyigena hopes to go back to school in the future and attend university to become an accountant.

She added that she wants to be an influential businesswoman in the country, expand her business, and provide employment opportunities to others.

For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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