Emerance Umutesi: A young entrepreneur who promotes Rwanda’s cultural  tourism

Emerance Umutesi is a young woman who has a passion for Rwandan culture and tourism. She runs a business that sells “Made in Rwanda” products in Huye market, one of the largest in the country. Her products include cultural items that are used in weddings ceremonies, such as baskets, mats, jewelry, and traditional outfits. She also rents out drums and dancers’ costumes to schools and individuals who want to celebrate Rwandan culture and traditions in different events.

After graduating from high school in 2018, Emerance had a dream of pursuing university studies in marketing, but she lacked the funds to pay for her tuition. She decided to start her own business with some capital from her family. She chose to sell made in Rwanda products and she was among the pioneers in this field, as these products were usually only available in expensive shops in the city center or in the nearby museum shop.

She sources her products from local artisans who use natural materials and traditional techniques to create these products. Thanks to a good relationship she has cultivated with them , she is able to buy their products at fair prices. She also gives them feedback and suggestions from her customers to help them improve their quality and design. She admires their skills and creativity and sees them as valuable partners in her business.

Emerance’s main customers are locals who buy her products as gifts or souvenirs for their loved ones, or as decorations for their homes or offices. She also sells these products to tourists who come to Huye market as part of their cultural tours. They are fascinated by her products and often ask her about their cultural meaning and importance. 

However, building a customer base was not easy at first. People were not used to easily  finding quality “Made in Rwanda” products in the market. Emerance had to cope with people who bought her products on credit or paid in small installments, which disrupted her financial planning. She also had difficulties with recording her business transactions and managing her inventory. That’s when she joined Inkomoko in 2021.

 “I joined Inkomoko to upgrade my business management skills. They provided me with strategic consulting and practical training for growth, and helped me access affordable capital at the right time to meet the high demand,” said Emerance.

With the help of Inkomoko, Emerance improved her business management skills. She learned how to keep track of her business transactions, use data to plan for growth, and handle her finances. She also accessed a loan of 500,000 Rwf (about $430) to diversify her product range and meet the increasing demand from her customers. She invested in a whole set of Rwandan traditional dancers’ outfits and drums, which became a hit among her customers.

Emerance smiles proudly as she displays some of the colorful and vibrant Rwandan traditional dancing outfits in her shop.

Emerance is not only proud of her business, but also of how it impacts her community. She supports local artisans by providing them with income and opportunities. She promotes Rwandan culture and tourism by showcasing its beauty and diversity. She creates jobs for young people who assist her in running her shop. She has a vision of opening a big shop in Huye on the roadside, where she can display her products more attractively and reach more customers traveling to Huye.

Emerance has also achieved many personal successes thanks to her hard work and dedication. She can afford to pay for her young brother’s school fees in a private school. With the profit she makes and her savings, she is also getting closer to fulfilling her dream of going back to university and studying marketing.

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