Emerythe Mutuyihirwe (28) was one of the first young people in Rwanda to join the OYE project when it started in 2015. Using her skills training and with continued support and coaching from the project, she has become a real trail blazer, building her own business empire.
Emerythe’s quest for success started during her last year of secondary school. She used her family’s plot of land to grow crops and sold the harvests to support her sibling’s education. It also allowed her to pay her own short-term needs, but she could not save any money. Soon after finishing high school, Emerythe joined the OYE project. Building on the masonry skills she learned in secondary school, she was placed with a local bio-digester construction cooperative. Ambitious as she is, she rapidly became the group’s Vice President.
With the money she earned at the cooperative Emerythe was finally able to start saving and open a bank account. With the project’s support she developed a business plan and managed to secure a loan of 1’000’000 RWF (almost €1,000). With the loan Emerythe rented a plot of land for 700’000 RWF per year (almost €700). The remainder of the money, she used to buy seeds to plant Irish potatoes, a local staple crop. She also hired a caretaker as the plot was not near her home.
Emerythe (left) with her OYE peers
Emerythe’s business plan worked out well and she has turned good profits. Locally, there are three harvests for potatoes per year. Each harvest, Emerythe is able to grow around 15 tonnes of potatoes, which she can sell for approximately 2’000’000 RWF (almost €2,000), providing her with an annual revenue from her potato plot of 6’000’000 RWF (€5,900).
Emerythe used part of the profits to pay off her loan and grow her savings. The rest of her money she used to expand her farming business with horticulture crops, such as lettuce, carrots and beans. Later, when she had sufficient savings, she opened a small restaurant. This enabled her to supplement her income outside the harvest seasons. In October 2017, Emerythe was able to realise her dream and start constructing her own house. She has been building a four bedroom house where she wants to live with her husband and their two year old son. She continues to save money which she wants to use for her son’s education. She is confident that he will be able to attend university in future.
Despite her growing success, Emerythe continues to work with the OYE project. Recently, she was selected as one of 400 young people to work in an OYE crossover project with the local SNV sanitation programme, Isuku Iwacu (link to project). For this assignment she has started to build latrines in her district. As a leader, Emerythe also became a local sanitation and hygiene advocate.
Emerythe is really happy that she was able to join the OYE project. Sometimes she just wishes that the project had started earlier. Thinking back to her last year in secondary school, she knows now that she had no idea on how to manage a business and handle money. She thinks that the OYE training would have helped her a lot and she could have become even more successful if she had joined the programme at a younger age.
As a result of her success, Emerythe has become an inspiration for many young people in her community. She especially has become a symbol of success for young women who dream of being financially independent.