In 2012, the NEPAD Spanish fund selected FIOM Rwanda as one of the projects to be sponsored during the 2nd call of proposal. It is this decision that has impacted on the lives of Mukamana Daphrose, Regine Mukakarisa, Mukamwezi Dinah and Mujawimana Josiane – four women, all from different backgrounds with one thing in common; they are all beneficiaries of the NEPAD Spanish Fund.
“The Future in our Mind” (FIOM) is a non-profit organisation established to respond to poverty related challenges in Rwanda. Under the project “Empowering Women through Cooperative Development”, funded by the NEPAD Spanish Fund, the NGO aims to support women in the country to be socially and economically empowered. 736rural women over a period of two years have been supported to form 16 cooperatives that are self-managed by the women!
“In 2012, the NEPAD Spanish fund gave 269 901 Euros to implement the project to empower women through cooperative development. We targeted marginalized and disadvantagedwomen in the country. We achieved the objectives of this project by capacitating wormen on income generation. We have provided equipment to these cooperatives and coached and trained the women to contribute towards their own empowerment," said the FIOM Programmes Coordinator, Appoline Uwimbabazi
Mukamana Daphrose has been beekeeping since joining the Cooperative
Mukamana Daphrose is a beekeeper. She joined Koperative Abavumvu Twiyubake Kabarando (KATK) where she was trained on beekeeping, an industry formerly dominated by males. The cooperative also trains members in bees wax candle making. The honey and candles are sold to the community and the local market. KATK produces +-600 Kilograms of honey annually and uses local exhibitions and national events in Rwanda as an opportunity to exhibit and sell their products.
“Apart from the usual health insurance and school fees support we receive from the cooperative, I have also become an empowered business woman. I have even managed to buy some livestock to bring in extra income for me and my family,” says Mukamana.
The President of the Cooperative, Regine Mukakarisa spoke on the sustainability of the beekeeping business beyond NEPAD Spanish Fund support. “ We have penetrated a male dominated industry and we have shown tenacity and dedication. We have started using the modern methods of beekeeping which brings in bigger yields. We are also planning to move our hives to a different, secluded location as it is currently close to a community and there are safety concerns. Negotiations on the move to a buffer zone are also underway with Rwanda Development Board,” She said.
“Our strategy is to do skills transfer within the community by training young girls in beekeeping. This will not only benefit the girls, but the community as a whole,” says Regine.
The NEPAD and FIOM Rwanda team on a field visit to Hangumurimo Cooperative
FIOM is also supporting another cooperative, Hangumurimo Cooperative. It currently has amembership of 68 women and 10 men. With the agro processing materials provided by the project, Hangumurimo processes maize flour from maize crops and this flour is sold to the community and markets. The cooperative buys maize crops from the community and then processes it but also provides processing services to the community at a cost.
The President of the consortium Brigitte Mukarugwiza, speaks on the challenges they experienced before getting support from FIOM. She highlights the problems members were facing when selling their products individually at the market. Price volatility was always a challenge. “ With this machine bought through funding from FIOM, we are able to both produce and process maize. We are service providers for the community and cooperative members”
Sealing after maize processing
The consortium has made the difference in the lives of many women in the country. Mujawimana Josiane is one such woman. She is one of the youngest women in the cooperative. She comes from a poor community and has always had limited resources to take care of herself and family. Now she has access to health insurance and other benefits offered to the cooperative members. “Thanks to this support, we are able to produce up to 20 tons of maize annually,” she said.
“I am now able to sell my produce at competitive prices in the market because I’m represented by the cooperative,” says Mujawimana. Both cooperatives have also received computers through the fund to use for data collation, mail correspondence, financial record keeping etc. FIOM has also provided various training courses to the women, such as Financial and Project management.
“Of course we usecomputers in our business, because we always need to check the market trends when it comes to pricing the honey sold at markets” concluded the President of the Bee-keeping consortium.