One Young Mother

One Young Mother

The Most Significant Changes in CARE's VSL Project

NIYIMPAYE Epiphany is a single mother, 27 years old living in Byimana sector, Ruhango District.  She lives with her mother- disabled- her son and two young brothers. She was born in one of the poorest families in the locality. At 16 years old, she got pregnant by a man who promised her a job in Muhanga town as a servant in his bar. 

In January 2010, she has been sensitized by CARE staff to join a Village Savings and Loans Groups (VSLG). The nearest VSLG was ABIZERANYE. Members refused her because they didn't believe she could save a 100 Rwandan Francs weekly. She was also too dirty and stigmatized by neighbors. During the third week of January 2010, she decided to beg on the main road to the town. She got 600 Frs and come back to the VSLG asking to be integrated. The executive incharge of social affairs in the National Women Council Committee at cell level helped her to negotiate and constituted for her a guarantee in case she didin't find money to save in the coming weeks. Finally, the VSLG members accepted her. Through the group, she learned the basics of borrowing, lending, and saving money to help grow her own income. The group also provided her with the opportunity to borrow money so that she could create her own business and help it expand.

Three months later, she took credit of 300 Rwandan Francs to buy and sell avocadoes. She started with 21 avocadoes bought at 300 RWF (less than 0.5 USD) and sold to 370 RWF. She did it three times a week and two weeks later she paid back her loan and started working from her own money. In July 2010, she took a new credit of 1000 Frs to add to what she had earn for the commerce of avocadoes. With this extra income, she started to buy and sell avocadoes, vegetables, and seven kilos of maize flour not in the market on market day but on a small table installed in front of her family's house. That daily business went very well and was growing “miraculously” as she said. 

After the training on the management of small income generating activities provided by ISARO project staff, she expanded the variety of items to be sold, and in October 2011, she left that table to one of her brothers and started a new business in a small shop near the main road where she is gaining a “lot of money,” she said.  At the end of the first cycle in December 2011, she bought 2 mattresses. In December 2012, she bought used roofing tiles for her own house. And now, she has been able to build an independent livelihood for herself and her child. She has also had an impact on her mother and brothers' lives as she has passed on her knowledge from the VSLG and let them take over her first business. 

She is very appreciated by neighbors and local authorities because she is an inspiration to others in the community, showing that it is possible to start from nothing and improve your life. Her story has touched many people including journalists who visited her in December 2012. The story has been broadcasted on the national television and radio as well as in different newspapers in the country like Imvaho Nshya (a national weekly newspaper) and Igihe (an online newspaper). She continues to build her business and is working to raise her son in better circumstances that what she grew up in. 

  • PublicationDate: 1 Dec 2012
  • Author(s): CARE Rwanda
  • Related Programs: Vulnerable Women Program
  • Related Projects: VSL Scale Up & ISARO Project
  • District: Ruhango
  • Media Type: Document
Published in Case studies