3 December 2018

Rwanda: How Mushaija Rose From Fruit Vendor to Chief Executive

James Mushaija is the founder of Kwetu-Nyumbani fruits and bar café located in Remera, Kigali. It is a healthy eating joint.

The health-conscious cafe makes fruit salad, smoothies, vegetable soup, milkshake, herbal tea, organic juices and natural flavored juice and milk among others.

However, it's not always been easy for him. His drive to start the company came after the collapse of his firm known as Cornerstone management consulting firm (in Kigali), in 2013.

Natural juice made by Kwetu-Nyumbani fruits and bar café located in Remera.

The firm was operating effectively until one of his employees disappeared with a client's money.

Since the contract was between the company and the client, Mushaija had to sell off all his belongings to pay the client and to keep a good record. He could therefore not proceed with his business and had to wrap up operations as the firm ran bankrupt.

After the setback, he went looking for other opportunities which were hard to come by. Though he had a degree, he was not interested in applying for jobs because he wanted to be his own boss. He decided to start afresh.

"This is when I realised that I had to follow my passion, which was organic farming and healthy eating but its not what I had studied. This is an idea born while I was still at the university in 2005," he says.

His passion for organic farming and healthy eating compelled him to pursue a course in Nutrition in Kenya.

I grew up in a home where Agriculture was key; therefore, I had to do my best to make an impact on society, he said.

He started with about Rwf12,500 which was given to him by a friend initially intended for a new wardrobe.

Mushaija instead used the money to buy containers and some fruits like grapes, sugarcanes, jackfruit and some vegetables, which he started packing and vending to different offices. Each container of fruits was sold at about Rwf800.

In a short period, he started making much more as clients could make orders every day. Over time, his customer base grew.

He started with one employee but as the company expanded he employed five more workers.

The agri-prenuer says that customers are responding to his enterprise effectively.

The entrepreneur is a graduate of Bachelors of Business Administration (Accounting) from the former Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

"I decided to start this business not for money but for passion and provide customers with food that is healthy since most of the people consume processed foods daily, most of which is toxic," he noted.

He says that the herbal tea and juice that he makes helps in the management of blood pressure, insomnia and represses the development of asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, heartburn, pain, constipation, and stress.

"We are targeting everyone, both low and moderate income earners, our aim is to sell at fair prices so that we get more customers. This is how we can sustain our business, most of the products go for Rwf2,000 or less," he explained.

He also deals in organic farming; all the fruits he sells he gets from his farms in Gashora and Ndego Districts

Achievements

He has been able to create jobs for about 34 employees as his market has grown.

In a day, he says that he serves between 40 to 50 customers, explaining that is what has made him known across Kigali as he does both home and office deliveries.

The entrepreneur started the African Youth Entrepreneurial Business Forum that nurtures and models future business owners and leaders of Africa with self-economic freedom empowerment.

"AYMA also enhances and promotes Africa as a green belt to control the abuse of climate change through the creation of practical and achievable greenbelts and forest reserves and much more," he notes.

Challenges

"Some clients often take long to pay since we have different payment plans. For instance, you can pay after a day, a week or a month. Some customers take this for grants and end up paying late or even not paying which affects capital flow," he said.

Future plans

Mushaija hopes to expand his business to Kenya and other East African countries.

"I want my business to be the leading health hub in Rwanda," he states.

Advice

"Do not leave Rwanda to go work as housemaids and Askaris in foreign countries yet you can think of ideas that can earn you money right here. Rwanda is gifted, you can even do farming. If I started as a fruits vendor, you can also start small.

"You do not have to always do what you studied, rather go where your passion is, you can be trained in any domain and turn into an expert as long as you are committed," he noted.

He also says that no capital is too little when you have a plan, "use the little you have so that you can expand through your earnings."

Rwanda

Rwanda Has Achieved Universal Healthcare

With more than 90 per cent of Rwandans covered under the community-based health insurance scheme locally known as… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 The New Times. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.