My name is Mukeshimana Francoise. I am a 43 year old married woman with 4 children. I live in Gasura village, Kagatamu cell, Bushenge sector in Nyamasheke district. I heard about the VSLA saving system from two CORE village agents in our village. I was immediately interested in joining them because I like the idea of women being empowered. When I joined, we were trained on how to organize a VSLA group. It was hard to understand how it could be possible for one to start with 500 Rwf and then accumulate more money.
Together with a group of 23 women, we formed Dushyigikirane VSLA group and started saving. After three month, I was among the first people to ask for a loan. I took out 30,000 Rwf which I used to begin a decoration business. When I got my first client, I hired two people, one to make a cake and the other to decorate the wedding venue. As I watched my staff do their work, I was learning from them. My first client paid me 120,000 Rwf and I managed to pay back the loan I took from the VSLA group. Before joining the VSLA, I had always depended on my husband for everything but now the situation has changed.
So far, I have bought 4 wedding gowns, 8 suits for men and 12 pairs of Rwandan women traditional dressings (Imishanana) which I rent to people during ceremonies. I am grateful to World Vision and FVA for the trainings that they provided to us that have made me the type of person I am today. My business right now has a capital of 700,000 Rwf. Though I was married it wasn’t a legal marriage. Using the profits obtained from the business, I managed to organize my own marriage with my husband. I decorated it myself, made the cake, dressed myself , my husband, best men, matrons and my parents.