Rwandan couple joins forces to provide their community with energy services

June 11, 2015 | By
GVEP International

An entrepreneur in Eastern Rwanda, that received training in business development and renewable energy technologies from GVEP, is coaching his wife to take on their solar phone charging business and barber shop.

When Mbarushimana Vincent started his business in 2009, he solely depended on car batteries to generate the power he needed to provide phone charging services to his community in Gatsibo, Eastern Rwanda. But having to close his shop and travel long distances to recharge the batteries just wasn’t viable.

Since receiving business development and technology mentoring in 2014, Vincent decided to invest his savings into a solar panel to boost his business’s productivity. This enabled him to charge 30 more phones per day and increase his income from 1500 to 4500 Rwf daily ($2 to $6.5).

Motivated by the success of this investment, he decided to expand and diversify his services by opening a modern hair-cutting salon and barber shop, the first of their kind in the community. He also involved his wife in the process by inviting her to attend GVEP-run gender sensitization meetings and business and technology trainings with him.

 

“Now that my husband has shared his skills in business development with me, I feel confident in running our shop while he explores other opportunities for us to expand”, explains Mutesi, Vincent’s wife.

GVEP’s team trained the couple in record keeping and business performance monitoring, all the while raising awareness on the productive uses of energy and business sustainability. Mutesi is now fully in charge of the solar phone charging and hair-cutting business, while Vincent is developing agricultural activities in the area.

With the money earned from their business, Vincent and Mutesi bought two parcels of land in the community: one on which they are building a house that will serve as both a home and a business outlet, and another one for growing coffee, cabbage and eggplants. Through this new activity, Vincent has created employment in the area by hiring 2 farmers to work the land.

“I am very grateful for the support I received and now wish to share my success with others – whether it is my wife who has now acquired new skills, or others in the community that I am helping through increased access to energy services”, said Vincent.

The couple is now looking to purchase a new solar panel and open another outlet in the nearby village of Mayora, thus extending energy services to other rural areas that are not connected to the grid. GVEP is continuing its support through regular visits from a business mentor to evaluate the couple’s goals and achievements, and will now assist them in promoting their business through market development activities.

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