- Tailoring and Décor
- Atelier de Couture Ideale
- partner school
- William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan
It was a miracle I survived [the genocide]. It must have been a reason, a purpose.
I was forced to close my tailoring business when the Rwandan genocide started in 1994. However, I reopened six years ago, and now run a tailoring shop and room decorating business called Atelier de Couture Ideale.
I was orphaned at a young age. Thankfully, a neighborhood family adopted me and although I did well in school, my adoptive family was unable to afford to send me to Senior Secondary School.
After marrying my neighbor, I wanted to be able to contribute to my household income. Since I loved fashion, I asked a Congolese neighbor to train me in tailoring. I received excellent training in the skill, but I never received any training in how to run a tailor shop business.
When the genocide started in 1994, I was forced to close my business. During the next 100 days, I endured a number of horrific encounters, including a personal attack and the death of my son.
After the genocide, I felt demoralized and unmotivated to reopen my shop. As time went on, I recognized that there were people in my life that depended on me, and I was limiting their life when I chose not to live mine to the fullest. From there, I started thinking of ways to open a business again.
When my business reopened in 2004, the area around my shop wasn't urban. It didn't have the nearby hospital, university, or senior secondary school as it does now. People preferred going to the city center. Because I was new, and didn't have many customers and people thought I was inexperienced. In order to get customers, I utilized my favorite things to do: socializing and wearing the fashionable clothes I designed and made.
Before 10,000 Women, I didn't have organized bookkeeping. I used to mix-up my personal books with my business. I couldn't keep track of my profits and losses. Everything was disorganized. After hiring an accountant, I was better able to analyze my business and realized I needed to hire more employees.
10,000 Women has also taught me about customer care. I learned to be proactive in attracting clients to the business. Six years after opening my second tailor shop, sixteen years after closing my first one, my tailor shop is successful and exporting to the US. My proposal to expand the business won a business plan competition for the 10,000 Women program in Rwanda.
I plan on using the prize money to buy more machines. The new technology will improve the quality and volume of her work. I have grown to five employees and I work with interns who want to be trained in the business. Sales have grown since the start of the program and I have been able to win a couple of contracts, which was one of my objectives in applying for the 10,000 Women training. My profit margin increased by 20%.
I have four children and I also support nine orphans. Since graduating from 10,000 Women, I am now able to pay my children's school fees with less difficulty. I was able to purchase good materials for my business and have great hope for the future.