By Maria Cleary, Institutional Funding Advisor
Ten years ago Consilde Mukamudodo had nothing: no home or access to income. Today, thanks to her amazing entrepreneurship and determined work ethic she has her own thriving business, established with an initial loan of just €11.
Consilde outside her house in Huye, Southern Province, Rwanda. November 2016
As we drive toward Huye in the Southern Province of Rwanda, I begin to notice changes in our surroundings. The area looks and feels different from the rest of Rwanda.
Everywhere are stark reminders that in the Southern Province the poverty rate is almost one and a half times higher than the national average, with a massive 57% of people living below the poverty line, and 31% living in extreme poverty.
As a strategy to tackle this poverty, Trócaire has partnered with women-led local organisations promoting economic empowerment in the region, supporting women to purchase livestock and set up their own small businesses.
One such partner is Duterimbere Microfinance SA, which has given support to Consilde Mukamudodo, who we are visiting today.
As we walk up the hill to Consilde’s compound, we find that she is not waiting to receive us. She is working. In fact, while we are there, she doesn’t stop working.
The only time she stops is to take out her microfinance book, where all loans and repayments are recorded, and again to pose for one quick photo!
Rwanda uses ‘Ubudehe Categories’ to classify income levels for the purpose of social welfare support.
In 2006, Consilde would have been assigned to Ubudehe Category 1 – the lowest out of four categories, based on her household’s economic status.
People in Category 1 are defined as: ‘Families who do not own a house and can hardly afford basic needs.’
At that time for Consilde every day was a struggle to survive, to find work and buy food.
But, thankfully she did find a job serving sorghum beer.
Through that work, she saw the high demand for sorghum and came up with the idea to set up her own sorghum processing microbusiness.
Through membership of a community solidarity group, she secured her first loan for 10,000 Rwandan Francs – the equivalent of € 11.
Consilde hard at work to fill a new order. November 2016.
Consilde set up her first business and clients started coming to her for sorghum. She soon found that the demand for her sorghum was higher than what she could produce herself, so she hired a helper.
Since then, with the help of Duterimbere Microfinance SA, Consilde has successfully taken and repaid 10 loans.
With this she has bought chickens, a pig, and a cow, greatly improving her family’s food security.
Consilde has also been able to buy a home for herself and her husband, who now works as a guard in the local medical centre, and their three children all go to school.
In addition, Consilde has bought another property in her compound, which she has renovated and is now going to rent out.
Consilde manages the sorghum business, the livestock, and the property for rent... but she also has new ideas for other businesses.
She and other community members have established their own community savings and lending group, which provides microloans to three different member of the group each week.
The members of the group are committed to this work and they are happy to do it independently of Duterimbere Microfinance SA – a testament to their individual empowerment journeys and the overall sustainability of the microfinance initiative.
By the end of my visit I am utterly in awe of Consilde, who continues to work away as she speaks to us. Her strength, resilience and energy are inspiring.
Consilde proudly informs us that she is now in Ubudehe Category 3, which is defined as including: ‘Those who have a job and farmers who go beyond subsistence farming to produce a surplus which can be sold. The latter also includes those with small and medium enterprises who can provide employment to dozens of people.’
What a transformation she has experienced!
Trócaire’s work with microfinance institutions in Rwanda is a pillar of our Women’s Empowerment and Resource Rights programmes. With its activities Trócaire supports the empowerment of poor and marginalised people, enabling them to claim their rights and live free from poverty.
You can support inspiring women like Consilde this Christmas with the Trócaire Gift of Support for Entrepreneurs.