Empowering Rural Women to Thrive Beyond Borders

Jeanne d’Arc Nyirampakaniye from Musanze District

“Learning how my business can thrive has changed my mindset, influenced my business growth and improved my confidence to impact the community and contribute to the country’s economic development as a rural woman,” says Jeanne d’Arc.

Encouraged by her desire to find homegrown solutions and contribute to her community’s development, Jeanne d’Arc Nyirampakaniye from Musanze District started her own company, Tuberwe Knitting Tailoring and Handcraft Centre Ltd, which specialises in tailoring and traditional weaving.

Jeanne d’Arc’s passion for tailoring developed at the age of 18 when she trained at the “Atelier Sénégalais de Nyamirambo,” one of the most reputable tailoring houses at that time, and was offered a permanent job upon completion. 

In 2009, Jeanne d’Arc founded Tuberwe Knitting Tailoring and Handcraft Centre and started making and delivering a wide variety of custom clothing including pants, uniforms, knitted clothes and much more exquisite Made in Rwanda products in Musanze District.  

“As one of Rwanda’s touristic areas with various attractions in addition to being my hometown, Musanze District is the perfect location for my business. The rapidly growing secondary city didn’t just give me the opportunity to reach diverse clients such as public institutions, schools and the surrounding community but also tourists attracted by Volcanoes National Park and the mountain gorillas,” says Jeanne d’Arc.  

To satisfy customer demand and expand her business, Jeanne d’Arc opened two new shops in Kigali and increased the number of employees to 12 including 8 tailors, two sales representatives, a marketing agent and an accountant. Her goal: reaching a higher market and boosting sales. 

In addition to producing finely crafted clothes and bags, Tuberwe Knitting Tailoring and Handcraft Centre serves as a hub for women and young people to acquire various handicraft skills.

Through the “Hanga Umurimo” programme that was introduced in 2012 to empower Rwandans to come up with business ideas and create jobs, Jeanne d’Arc partnered with the Private Sector Federation and Rwanda Development Board to provide knitting and tailoring courses to young Rwandans.

To date, more than 1,000 people including youth and women in rural regions have gained different skills from tailoring to handicraft refining, which has enabled them to create earning opportunities, a significant contribution to rural development and the country’s economic growth.

Jeanne d’Arc founder of Tuberwe Knitting Tailoring and Handcraft Centre Ltd

Jeanne d’Arc is also one of the entrepreneurs who has benefited from the entrepreneurship programmes initiated in 2020 through the African Management Institute’s partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme. She successfully completed AMI’s Business Survival Bootcamp and enrolled in the Survive to Thrive programme offered to small business owners and designed to empower and support them in taking their businesses to greater heights.

In May 2022, the AMI Resilience Prize recognized Jeanne d’Arc’s business as the most resilient and impactful in the Northern Province. As a result, she received a cash investment of Rwf 1,000,000 (USD 1,000) and additional business tools. 

For Jeanne d’Arc, applying what she learned has given her a clear direction and the confidence to set growth goals for her business.

“Learning how my business can thrive in difficult times like Covid-19, managing employees and assigning them duties, and recording all business transactions have been the key benefits from AMI’s entrepreneurship programmes. This has really given my business a clear direction and I now know how to prioritize tasks according to my growth goals,” says Jeanne d’Arc. 

Jeanne d’Arc adds that all the skills she has gained from AMI’s programmes have made her confident to expand her business by increasing production, and establishing more shops around the country and she now plans to conquer markets across East Africa. 

To learn more about the African Management Institute and its work in Rwanda, visit www.africanmanagers.org/ami-rwanda

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