Eugenie Mujyewamaria lives in the Musanze district in Rwanda’s Northern Province. We met her for the first time two years ago. In a community where women are expected to stay at home and take care of their households, Eugenie ventured out and became a role model for young women ánd men.
Using the lessons that she received during her OYE basic business training, Eugenie was able to start and grow a bio-digester construction company. When Eugenie recruited her fellow OYE trainees to start the company, they put their trust in her. That trust motivated her to work even harder. With support from the project she created a business plan and with continued support and coaching from SNV OYE staff, Eugenie was able to make it a success.
Now two years later, Eugenie’s business has grown and evolved. To date, the company has built more than 300 bio-digesters in the area and she has hired around 200 fellow OYE participants who have been trained to construct bio-digesters. With her company Eugenie makes more than 1 million Rwandan Franks (almost €1000) per month. The company has also started to construct houses and she hires up to 80 masons for this work.
Eugenie hopes to further expand her business by opening a construction hardware store. She also wants to continue saving so that in the future her children can attend university, something that she was not able to do herself. Eugenie is well-known in her community. She is a leading business owner and has a good image for being efficient and professional towards her work: her growing customer base mostly due to word of mouth.
Eugenie is also leader for women in her community “I owe the success that am enjoying now to the OYE project. On day one of our training I learnt valuable lessons that I continue to enjoy today. The most important one was that my gender is not a barrier for progress and once I started believing that, the sky was the limit for me.” In addition, Eugenie’s company provides equal employment opportunities for women and men.
Eugenie feels passionate about this because she witnesses many teenage pregnancies and early marriages that are driven by the traditional attitude that women’s role in society is to be submissive to their parents and their spouses. “If women can look to other women as a guide, maybe some of them wouldn’t rush into these life altering decisions. Instead, women should also be allowed to generate their own income, contribute to their household expenses and able to be self-sufficient because that will not just benefit them but also society as a whole.”
Eugenie’s success has shown other young women that their gender doesn’t restrict them from achieving their dreams and that they shouldn’t be afraid of failure or what their peers might think of them. “I want to keep inspiring other young women in Musanze to be more independent and not give in to stereotypes.”