Rwanda: Disability Didn't Deter BDF's Mutembereze From Pursuing His Entrepreneurship Dream

21 November 2019

Viateur Mutembereze a resident of Nyabimata village in Nyaruguru district, is a primary five dropout, he also lives with a disability- and a combination of these factors not only complicated the life he lived but also made it hard for him to find means of survival, for he could barely find employment.

This, however didn't stop him from maneuvering his shortcomings. He always looked for ways to change his situation and from time to time, Mutembereze managed to secure odd jobs.

This one time, he chose to volunteer in a saloon, little did he know that this path he had chosen to take was going to open doors to a whole new life.

Charging cell phones, sweeping the salon floor, maintaining electronics are some of the chores he attended to. Slowly by slowly he gained some skills, that when he started to earn from this, he chose to secure some savings.

From these savings he managed to later create a charging station. Armed with only a table and a few francs, Mutembereze ventured into telephone charging for residents in his home town. He charged only for 50 rwf and on average he used to charge 20-40 phones per day.

Mutembereze has always dreamt of owning a business, so this was a dream come true.

Little by little, the business picked up and in a span of a few months, he was able to save up to Rwf100,0000. And it was this amount he used as capital for his barbershop business. Life indeed was taking a smooth turn.

Making a niche out of the barbershop with the help of BDF

Mutembereze was fortunate enough to learn from other barbers in the neighbourhood, this he says strengthened his passion.

And last year, he decided to embark on expanding his business. But this called for more resources especially in terms of capital.

In February 2018, he was lucky enough to learn about Business Development Fund and their aim of aiding small businesses with access to finance.

"I actually learnt about this opportunity while listening to news from my radio. Where they were raising awareness on how it facilitates different entrepreneurs with different business plans," he says.

But my concern was, he adds, whether I stood a chance to get a loan from the development fund. He decided to approach the institute for a loan that would not only help expand his business but also enable him tackle unemployment for most of his friends who were jobless.

"I had to approach BDF and ask them about what one needed to pass through for them to acquire a loan. Hardly did I know that it only required me to have a business model and an account in SACCO," he says.

"After I learnt about this, I quickly approached SACCO, under the proposal of BDF officials and then I submitted my business details. Before I knew it they told me that I was clear to receive the loan from BDF," he says.

I was given Rwf500,000 and together with his savings it totalled up to Rwf600,000.

With this opportunity presented to him, Mutembereze was sure of the fact that his business was going to progress.

"In most cases you know that society judges us (disabled) people in a wrong way, or they carry different perceptions of us. This will in most cases discourage different disabled people but it was different with me," he reiterates.

Today, the businessman, who employs two barbers says that at least 40-50 customers flock his salon, partly because they are not many salons in his neighborhood but because he also thinks that they are inspired by his rapid progress.

For young children under the age of 18, the cost is as low as Rwf100 whereas for adults he charges them Rwf200, which can even go to Rwf100 higher.

"Basically I think that on a good working day we make about Rwf6000-Rwf7000, which means that for a good week we can make as much as Rwf30000-Rwf35,000," he reveals.

Mutembereze says he amasses profits that go up to Rwf120000-Rwf140,000, when he has worked well with his other employers.

On top of setting up his own salon, he has also been able to raise up a family of two ,buy more barbershop appliances, one motorcycle and also bought a plot of land in his neighborhood.

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