I married my wife in 2011, but we had nothing to call our own; house, land, livestock, property, nothing. We lived in a small house I rented for 10,000rwf per month, but without a steady job and income I started to fall back on rent. With 4 months worth of rent due and no means to pay, a friend offered me a job – to deliver milk from his farm to a dairy a few miles away. This was a miracle for me because the job paid me well enough to pay my rent, make a living with my small family and manage to save. By 2013, I had saved enough money to buy a small plot of land for 170,000rwf and I started building a small house on that plot of land. In 2015, I remember Albert (Moucecore staff member) come to our community and spoke to us about having a transformed community spiritually and economically. He taught us about working together and joining self help groups and starting small income generating activities. After listening to him, I knew I was a changed man. I joined a self help group (SHG) and spent days without sleeping, just thinking. With many ideas of small projects going through my mind, I decided to start with agriculture.
The first crop I cultivated was sorghum, I sold the first harvest for 300,000rwf and with the money I started growing rice. In January 2015, I bought a bigger plot of land (1 hector) and started growing maize. With the profit I made, I pulled down the house we lived in – the first house I had built and started building a new house. I kept attending my SHG meetings and I would always be keen to learn something else knew; what else I could do within my means. In September 2016, through my SHG I heard about a poultry business. My interest picked, I decided to make another investment and bought chickens that could lay eggs. Like any start of a new project, it was not easy. However, this new project of Poultry started to pay off soon after as well. I started selling eggs and chickens and making small profits. I still had my old job of delivering milk to a dairy, so each day I was not home to pay attention to everything, unfortunately robbers come and stole most of my chickens. This however, prompted me to build a better Poultry house and bought more chickens. I recently sold 40 of them and now I have 100 left (not counting the chicks). Meanwhile I bought 10 cows and gave them to my neighbors to take care of them for me and we could split profits. This would help them and help me too.
By January 2017, I had a steady profit coming in from all my projects. I bought another plot of land of 1,200,000Rwf, where I grow plantains. I have had to hire people to work in my fields, sometimes hiring 40 people at a time in the busy seasons. To manage movements from one place to another, I have bought a motorcycle which most of the time my workers use as well to facilitate their work. I started a small shop/store that sells a few household items. This is where I am able to sell my eggs too (after delivering to my main customers). My wife runs the shop while I am away attending to other needs.
I have attended trainings on modern farming techniques and financial management but I still have a long way to go in learning how to manage what I have and I do realize my energy and investments are divided in many projects small and big. My next project is to buy a truck that can transport crops and seeds for sell to Kigali and other parts of the country. I need to choose wisely where my focus should be. In everything I have been able to achieve, I thank God mostly and ask him to continue blessing me so I can be a blessing for others in the community as well; just as I have been blessed. I ask God to give me wisdom and discernment so that I can continue reaching my goals.
Moucecore Self help group members in Gatare were facilitated to conduct a study tour visiting a honey processing factor. From the self help groups, a group of few chosen bee farmers visited “Ubwiza bwa Nyungwe beekeepers union” where they learnt how to have a successful business in honey and other related bee products. After the tour of the honey processing and sales center, they briefly learnt about all stages of honey processing methods and techniques, how to increase honey production and later had a group discussion on honey quality control standards, how and where to find market.
“My family kept bees for honey when I was young. My father would bring honey for us, and give some to our neighbors or use it for medicine; until now, I still keep bees for my family. But just like my parents, I never thought about selling honey as a small business, I had no idea one could make candles from honey wax!
When Moucecore offered this opportunity to visit other bee keepers who started like me, I had little or should I say I was not sure what to expect. But now I do feel enlightened and have set goals. I am part of a small group of bee keepers back home. It is important I go back and teach others what I learnt today, because working together will help us achieve more” Rwanyonga Calliope