On completing her secondary education three years ago, Josée Ishimwe realised that career options weren’t as easy as she perceived.
What hit her hard, the twenty three year old said, was seeing a big number of young girls being impregnated and with lack of basic needs and poverty among the contributing factors.
Adolescent pregnancies are a global problem occurring in high-, middle-, and low-income countries.
Around the world, however, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to occur in marginalised communities, commonly driven by poverty and lack of education and employment opportunities.
Also, Ishimwe said there were a big number of young graduates who were seeking jobs. These two main problems made her start thinking of how to create something of herself but also help create jobs for some of the youth to help curb the issue of unemployment.
“I knew this wasn’t going to be exceptional to me. This was a lesson that was exceptionally hard to learn, although it opened my mind on how I should start managing my expectations and also resolve the problems that could complicate my life in general,” she said.
Because of this experience, Ishimwe resorted to making handmade clothes which she was passionate about but hadn’t gotten an opportunity to practice.
The second year student at university of Rwanda college of Education – Rukara Campus narrated that at her home, there was a neighbor who was making clothes from thread, she approached her to be trained on basics.
“Since I had passion for fashion, it wasn’t hard for me to learn the basics, and within a few months, I was good to go,” she said.
She started with making carpets then later upgraded to making wall frames, scuffs as well as decorating flowers.
She did this by adding the finishing touch to her products. To her surprise, people were impressed with her creativity and encouraged her to do more; the thing which motivated her to love what she was doing as well as work hard to ensure her customers are satisfied.
Being conversant with digital life, Ishimwe knew for a fact that what was needed for her business visibility was to create a social media account.
“I came up with a YouTube channel to showcase what I do. This, helped me reach out to a big audience for my business in time,” she added.
Ishimwe added that this has since improved her life in terms of being independent and when she joined campus, she had already mastered what is required and the preferences of customers.
What keeps her going however is the fact that she has helped transition this skill to other students, who have mastered it well and are as well doing it to help them cater for their needs.
“Apart from promoting Made in Rwanda, I am thrilled that my fellow students, especially girls, are becoming independent and also some even come up with something different from my initial idea just to create a business out of it,” she said.
Ishimwe said at times clients come up with ideas that they would love their products to be made or look like. This, she said has helped her learn new things that she wouldn’t have known before.
Besides, at her university, she has secured a place where she works from whenever she is out of class, which is a great achievement because it allows her to concentrate on her work without any interference whatsoever.
On top of this, she has already sold out more than 100 products from what she makes. She anticipated creating a brand and market for her products both locally and internationally.
“My expectations are to build a big company with good quality and quantity products. I will create an online shop as well as creating employment to more than 100 people by 2025,” she added.