Rwanda: How BDF Saved Couple From the Fangs of Poverty

21 November 2019

The year 2016 was of love and happiness for the family of Jean Bosco Nshimiyimana and Delphine Uwimana, mainly because the couple had just wedded.

They had started a family and were happy with their new life. One thing was missing however for Nshimiyimana, his newly wedded wife was unemployed and this bothered him. His dream of a complete and happy family involved his wife earning an income as well.

They had tried their luck with numerous job applications but all efforts seemed futile. He was the sole breadwinner and knew it was going to be hard for them to achieve the vision they had for their family.

"Just like most men, I dreamt of a family whereby both husband and wife are employed. I didn't want to leave my wife back at home. To me it was just a shared responsibility of helping her find a job," The 36-year old shares.

With all the failed attempts with job hunting, self-employment was the only option left for the couple. And amidst all these hindrances, Nshimiyimana thought of starting a stationery.

They had embarked on a journey to start-up their own business. This he says was aiming at both providing for the family but mostly importantly create a job opportunity for the love of his life-Delphine.

Nshimiyimana now has two stationeries in two different districts, both Nyaruguru and Nyanza. / Edwin Ashimwe

And with just Rwf1,700,000 as initial investment, the Electronic and Communications Systems graduate, started up a stationery which he says generates a minimum profit of Rwf500,000 per month.

Why he thought about a stationery for a business idea, Nshimiyimana says it was because he had observed the scarcity of the services in the area.

"I thought about a stationery because I had consistently witnessed how scarce it is or even the services that come along with it, in most cases citizens move from Nyaruguru to Butare, for just a simple service that can be rendered near them," he points out.

With the Rwf1,700,000 Nshimiyimana was able to rent a small house, purchased a few different materials such as a printer, a scanner, different scholastic materials, computers, laptops and also offered to service those who sought online services.

A plan for expansion

Business was booming a few months into the trade and Nshimiyimana and the wife planned on expanding it.

"Like I said earlier, I knew that this was a big opportunity. And of course it was proven by the fact that demand on market kept on increasing until we almost failed to satisfy our customers," Nshimiyimana says.

The couple made a monthly net profit that ranged from Rwf200,000 to Rwf250,000.

However there were challenges as with any business and with this, Nshimiyimana highlights that the business was at some point on the verge of failure.

BDF's support

"I thought about all possible ways in which I could sustain the stationery, but everything went blank. So I had to consult a friend. Who was then a manager of SACCO. I remember he told me about an institute that could support me with a loan," he reiterates.

This is how Nshimiyimana got to learn about BDF. After learning about the institute, he immediately sought their services.

Nshimiyimana and Uwimana got Rwf3 million as a loan from BDF.

Before the support from BDF, they had just one stationery with a couple of materials and electronics but this all changed after accessing the loan to the extent the couple opened up another branch for the business.

"Of course we already had two schools we were supplying to and a couple other services that we were already running in the stationery and BDF provided an opportunity for us to expand on this venture and scale it in two different districts," he says.

Through BDF's support the couple have not only tackled unemployment on their own but have also created jobs. / Edwin Ashimwe

The father to two also recalls being facilitated by BDF officials to fine-tune his business plan, given the steady foundation his project had.

The entrepreneur also used the loan to buy more computers, laptops, a scanner, 2 printers a number of scholastic materials such as lined/unlined paper, ring binders, post-it notes, a hole punch.

Other materials he bought include, ink-jet cartridges, highlighter pens, liquid paper commonly known as correction fluid, sell tape, market pens and drawing pins among others.

"The support moved us from a state of extinction to a state of transforming lives and also sustaining our huge market," the entrepreneur says.

Still with BDF's support, the couple was able to secure another loan for their business.

It's been three years down the road after the couple started working with BDF, but the monthly net profit has doubled to Rwf500,000 an amount that he believes can even go up to Rwf800,000, he says attributing the success of their business to BDF's support.

Today, Nshimiyimana lives happily with his wife in their own house with their two children.

"As a couple, we want to keep a substantial amount of profit so that we can scale this business to a national level," he says.

Uwimana, Nshimiyimana's wife testifies that since the beginning of this project, the couple have not only tackled unemployment on their own but have also created jobs.

"The business has not only benefited us but has also benefited those who operate the stationery daily, drivers who transport the products to clients among others."

Among the challenges they still face in the business is the fluctuation of prices as the business is a seasonal one.

"This is a tricky business as prices have to change according to the season. But we have come to witness that however bad the season can be this business can't run into deficit," she says.

"Needless to mention, I believe that there are a couple of good business people out there who do not know where to get the funding but also the training on how business plans can be sharpened, but from personal experience I would urge them to approach BDF," Nshimiyimana points out.

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