Marcienne Nyirahuguka is 55 years old and tragically seven years ago, was left a widow with the responsibility to care for their four children all by herself.  She says “I was lonely and hopeless because I was a widow. I wondered about my family’s future especially for my children and could not find solutions. We were destitute before my husband died, we could hardly find food, clothes, and the children’s school materials, and after the situation became much worse”  Thanks to AEE Rwanda and KNH things are changing.

She was invited to and joined an AEE Rwanda self-help group (SHG) when it was implemented in her village.  Together with the other women in the we were placed in groups based on our circumstances and situation.  Together they received training on the self-help group approach and we started saving together.  “My mind was open and thought about running a small shop rather than farming only which I used to depend on, despite the very low harvest” With this goal in mind Marcienne borrowed 4,000 Rwf ($5 US) from the SHG and started selling vegetables in the Gasarenda market.  From this initial 4,000Rwf loan she was able to make a profit of 1,500Rwf.  This borrowing and paying back loans (with interest) from the SHG continued until she had capital of 60,000Rwf ($75 US).  “With this amount, I thought about expansion away from just vegetables and I managed to start a small shop in Gatovu center where I sell various items needed in daily life by the community members. Those are things like cooking oil, salt, maize flour, bread, biscuits, pens, soda, etc.”

Her son Ntibaziyandemye did not get a change to finish secondary school as she could not afford it but now helps run her shop.  She says in closing “My business is running well and the goods is now valued at 85,000 Rwf ($110 US). We are generating and this helps me to cater for my children by covering their need. My children are happy and hopeful for their future. The self-help group is really transforming our life. My dream is to extend my business more and teach my children about the self-help group approach so that they get rid of poverty and make their future better”.