From fleeing Burundi to building a business: Aniella’s journey as a refugee entrepreneur in Rwanda

Aniella is a Burundian refugee who fled her home country in 2015 to seek safety and shelter in the Mahama camp in Rwanda. As a wife and mother of three children, Aniella was forced to leave behind her career as a nurse in Burundi and start a new life as a refugee. Despite the challenges of displacement, Aniella has managed to adapt to her new environment and find a way to support herself and her family. She has turned to soap-making, and her business has become popular and essential in the refugee camp. 

Despite being forced to flee her home country due to conflict, Aniella refused to let her circumstances hold her back. She found a new profession in making soap and used her knowledge and skills to start a new business.

“When I arrived here, I was thinking of other ways to stay active and gain income. I had a little knowledge in making soap. My aunty used to teach me how to make bar soap. That’s what I started practicing when I arrived here to make small money. I utilize a blend of various ingredients to produce the soap, including some products that contain chemicals that require the use of protective gear such as gloves and appropriate clothing. My team consists of four permanent workers, including two refugees and two non-refugees.”

Aniella’s entrepreneurial journey was not without its challenges. She struggled with the management aspect of her business and needed support to grow her business. Fortunately, Aniella heard about Inkomoko, which provides support and training to entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them grow and scale their businesses. With the help of Inkomoko, Aniella was able to develop a business plan which was key to lay down a strategy on improving her production and increasing her profit.

“I didn’t know how to keep track of my business transactions. Inkomoko helped me do a business plan and we identified gaps and opportunities for growth. After training for six months, I was able to secure a loan to invest and boost my production.” Said Aniella.

Aniella’s success in generating a monthly revenue of 360,000 Rwf by investing only 150,000 Rwf as cost of production. This is a significant achievement. This success has significant impacts on both her personal life and the wider community, including financial stability, job creation, and inspiring other entrepreneurs, particularly women. 

With a consistent revenue stream, Aniella can sustain herself and her family’s basic needs, as well as potentially save and invest in other ventures. Aniella is contributing to the local economy and creating employment opportunities for others in her community. Additionally, as her business grows, she may be able to hire more employees, further boosting the local economy. Moreover, Aniella’s success could serve as an inspiration to other entrepreneurs in her community, particularly women, who may be inspired to start their own businesses. As a result, Aniella’s success could contribute to empowering other women and promoting gender equality. However, Aniella hasn’t settled yet. She is committed to increasing her production and working on required standards to become eligible for bigger markets around the country.

Aniella’s success as a refugee entrepreneur not only demonstrates the potential of individuals to create opportunities for themselves and others, but it also highlights the importance of support systems for entrepreneurs. With the right resources and guidance, individuals like Aniella can build successful businesses that contribute to their communities’ economic growth and development. Aniella’s story is a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of refugees, who often face incredible adversity but find ways to rebuild their lives and contribute to their communities.

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