A few years back, a group of street vendors were accorded a secured permanent place to do their business, at Kisiment and Gihogere in Kigali by the government of Rwanda. This was a relief to them as a good number of them were single mothers, abandoned by their husbands, and left with the kids to take care of. The uncertainty and insecurity on the streets will send them home empty handed on several occasions, making them go without food for days.
Currently, the women have formed a cooperative known as Icyerekezo Gishya 2050 – loosely translated as New Vision 2050. In the cooperative, they save, and also get to encourage each other through weekly sessions at the market. They all agree that, though their businesses were in existence, the capital was not enough and banks were not their alternative at all. Banks charge horrendous interest rates. 2020 was not a favorable year for World finance and business survival due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To these women, fortunately, All Trust Consult through the sponsorship of Microlend Australia, gave to 25 women from different cooperatives loans of about $6000 USD. The largest loan was $330 and the smallest was $120. They were all able to return these loans on time and effectively. They have showed incredible transparency, honesty and effectiveness and commitment towards their businesses. Literally, these women have devastating stories about their past, but they didn’t let this hold them back as they chose to get focused, in order to secure a brighter future for their children through getting means to pay school fees for their children. A dream that is at the heart of each one of these women. They are also optimistic that when they continue to get the help needed financially from All Trust Consult and the training, it will help sustain them throughout their lives and it will help them get out of poverty forever and be in position to finance the education of their children up to university. A dream that will be a record breaker in their family tree -since no one in their family tree has a university degree. And their stories are as below:
As a woman, being left by a man is incredibly painful, but it hurts even more when you find out your husband left you for another woman. Salama, a mother of five understands well this experience, her husband left her when she most needed him. Four years down the line, she has been struggling to make both ends meet as a single mother. With grown up children, she says this is the time she needed all the support from her spouse, especially on the education of their children who are in tertiary education. “It’s just beyond my understandings how a man can run away from his own family, it’s not easy to comprehend some situations but when it happens, as a woman you have to stand up for your children,” she says with tears lingering in her eyes. She narrates that that she had to make her second born drop out of school while in secondary and find her a place where she could learn hairdressing skills that could help her in future. Her firstborn is now doing general mechanics and she is the one supporting him solely through her little income she gets from the fruit business. “At this point, I still can’t afford three meals for my children leave alone their insurance just because of the responsibilities I have,” she says. Salama’s wish is to get a well wisher who could stand up for her children’s education as well as health insurance. “This has always been my desire, when this happens, I believe I will be in a position to be able to ensure my younger children have three meals a day,” she says. She was funded by All Trust Consult with a loan of 150,000 RWF (150$). with hard work and determination she wanted to repay the loan on time and that is what happened recently. Her business repaid the loan and she is looking forward to the next phase of funding. She however thanks All Trust Consult for coming in, and that it’s like she has found a shoulder to lean on because when she is given a loan, it will help her business thus become more independent. She wishes to get a loan of Rwf 500,000 (500$) to improve her business in general.
Therese is married and stays in Kinyinya, a Kigali suburb. A mother of three says she always get encouraged through their association, which she believes is helpful for all the women in the cooperative. As a cooperative, she says they sit down and discuss about what they go through in life. This, according to her helps them console each other and keep them going despite the challenges.
“Getting to listen to each others stories makes us realize we all have issues. The best thing is to help out if possible and also learn how to handle difficult situations whenever we come across them,” she says. She is proud of her job, and she sees it as a crucial source of income for her family. The business they are doing as women has helped them not financially only but morally, and socially as well. “It’s ideal for women to open up to what they are going because its here that we get to understand each other offer any help,” she says. She adds that many women go through depression because they have kept to themselves many issues burdening them, but the cooperative has come to aid on this. Therese was given a loan of 200,000 RWF (220$) by All Trust Consult and she has repaid it all on time and she says that the loan was a stepping stone for her towards keeping her business alive during this period of COVID-19 global crisis. Therese is looking forward for a loan of Rwf 500,000 to expand the business and improve her livelihood. She notes that with the opportunity of loan by All Trust Consult, as women, they should use it a ladder to get where they wanted to be in life.
Joselyne is the youngest among the women who sells fruits at Gisimenti, Kigali. A twenty one year old grew up hating men, thinking all male figures are evil. She narrates that growing up; she experienced the man called her father mistreating her mother in all forms. “He could sometimes literally refuse to bring food home for a couple of days, at times we could go hungry for days and when we were lucky enough, we could have one mean a day,” she says. Life was hard for Joselyne and as the first born; she had to drop out of school while in primary 5 because her father couldn’t keep up with paying her school fees anymore.
This, she says, was the beginning of struggle as she had to help her mother look for casual jobs to cater for basic needs for her two younger siblings. “Alongside my mother, we would go door to door washing clothes and utensils for people so that we get little money to cater for a day,” she says. With all these going on, her father finally abandoned them to another new wife. Together with her mother, they decided to start buying fruits and selling them on the streets of Kigali. The past hard life she went through as a child made her become tough in life at a young age. “I managed to acquire some business skills from my mother, which helped me start also selling my own fruits alongside my mother,” she says. Asked about if she thinks of having her own family in future, she says although one day it will happen, she is still not sure if she will end up being abandoned just the way her father abandoned them. “Watching my mother being criticized and humiliated just because she was staying alone without a husband is my worst fear. This makes me to not think about having a family any time soon from now,” she says. Joselyne is proud of her mother for defying all odds and stuck with them despite the challenges she encountered. Her future dream is to learn professional beauty courses so that she can open up her own beauty salon. Joselyne was given a loan of 200,000 RWF (220$) BY All Trust Consult and what she did with it was enormous. She improved her stock and she was having such an attractive set of fresh fruits, and hence customers love her and many decided to buy from her even while coming from different and distant places. She has repaid the full Loan and she encouraged other fruit sellers to work hard , she simply served as an example. Joselyne sees her future exciting and she knows she is the captain of her ship, so she believes it’s in her hand to make her life meaningful. Joselyne is looking forward to getting a loan of 500,000 RWF (500$) which she says will help her expand her business as well as plan for her future life. “I thank All Trust Consult for believing in us women, financing us is the only way to impact our lives positively, being independent is all every woman long for, and with the loan, it’s much easier to become your own boss.