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December 2019 - February 2020

Women's Opportunity Center


Grab a cup of coffee on your way to Akagera National Park


CULTURAL EXCURSIONS Weaving, Traditional Dance & Imigongo Art


ECOLODGE KAYONZA +250 788 350 577



Striving for stronger women, stronger families and stronger communities



The quality of their merchandise speaks volumes



Agaseke, Traditional Dance and Imigongo Art 



Ideal for tourists en route to Akagera National Park



Practical skills needed to create marketable products



Publisher: Exposure Ltd +250 783 500 555 Photographer: Yassyn NIZEYIMANA ADUHIRE +250 787 174 371 Printed by: Opera Ltd +250 788 355 768

FOREWORD From crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-reliance

The URUGO Women's Opportunity Center, located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, is an innovative social enterprise founded by Women for Women International in 2013. The striking campus, conceived by architect Sharon Davis, was built using 450,000 clay bricks handcrafted by a local cooperative run by Women for Women program graduate Angelique Mukankubana. The center has created a secure, supportive environment in which women can find support, access resources and develop life-changing skills enabling them to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic selfreliance. Contributing to the government's Vision 2020 and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), the Urugo Women's Opportunity Center integrates economic transformation, rural development and productivity in a space of learning and renewal for women of Kayonza area and beyond. The entrepreneurial activities featured in this magazine are carried out by women who were once unable to afford basic necessities in life. Today, they have a different story to tell. The rolling hills on which the center is constructed are perfect for those who wish to discover rural Rwanda. Our safari tents are also suitable for weekend getaways. Urugo means home. Our urugo is a space of learning, a hub for women's entrepreneurship, a resource for the community and a model of an environmentally conscious design. We strive for stronger women, stronger families and stronger communities. Joy S. RWAMWENGE Executive Director|04


he Urugo Women's Opportunity Center was designed by a woman, built by women for the benefit of women. It encompasses a meeting room, restaurant, workshops and accommodation facilities. In addition, the center has a coffee shop and outlets displaying a wide range of products produced by women.

Training rooms are uniquely designed. Their roofs are structured to harvest rainwater which is funneled to the

underground cisterns through a network of pipes. A solar pump is used to propel collected water to the tank and eventually dispatch it to different parts of the facility.

responsible construction.

The composting toilets used on-site save water. A stringent daily and weekly maintenance routine is observed to ensure a risk-free management of human By capturing rainwater and tapping into renewable energy, waste in the absence of sewers and septic tanks. the establishment meets sanitation and energy The facility runs hands-on requirements while training programs that equip contributing to a cleaner and healthier atmosphere. A tour of women with practical skills needed to produce a variety the facility feels like a of products and manage presentation on a model of businesses successfully. eco-friendly ethos of|05

URUGO RESTAURANT For Reservations, call +250 788 350 577

SEWING THE QUALITY OF THEIR MERCHANDISE SPEAKS VOLUMES he workforce in the sewing center is composed of young women who are in tune with fashion and the latest trends in the global market. Their apparel can compete against any other established brand out there. This says a lot about their training program. Ingabire Aisha is grateful for the opportunity Women for Women International gave her. She has been working on-site since completing her formal training successfully. "I am still sharpening my skills while earning an income. The skills development aspect is a continuos process." She says. Through her savings, Aisha has managed to buy her own sewing machine. Owning a machine gives her the luxury of working from home when she is not at the center. Irakiza Martha, a diploma holder in computer science, is envisioning a brighter future. She is planning to start her own label and leverage the power of technology to grow her brand. Programs offered by the Urugo Women's Opportunity Center enable trainees to prepare their own business plans and attain an impressive level of financial literacy.|07

Cultural Experiences AGASEKE

Cover Story

traditional Rwandan basket known as agaseke is a symbol of peace and love. It is also a key weapon in the war against poverty, particularl among women living in rural areas. However, weaving baskets goes beyond putting food on the table and sending kids to school. The practice brings together Rwandans from three formerly divided ethnic groups, hence fostering unity and reconciliation. The role of artisans in weaving a divided nation into a unified one is undeniable. Globally, a made in Rwanda traditional basket has become a sought after product. Basket weaving is carried out in different parts of the world but an authentic agaseke from Rwanda usually stands out from the crowd.

Agaseke exports are skyrocketing and artisans across the country are weaving their way out of poverty. Muteteri Grace, a beneficiary of training programs offered by the Urugo Women's Opportunity Center credits agaseke for her current financial freedom. She is a member of an association known as Dukunde Umurimo and a trainer of aspiring artisans. She also mentors her own daughter who in turn, is following her footsteps. "The art of weaving was conveyed to us by our mothers. It is our responsibility to relay it to our daughters." She says. Weaving baskets has been part of the Rwandan culture for centuries. Traditionally, agaseke is a vessel containing important items. The iconic artefact was and still is an envelop of gifts from the heart. In addition, artistically woven baskets are used to decorate homes and venues of different functions. It is encouraging to see Rwandans preserving this precious symbolic item. Today, agaseke is accorded the recognition it deserves. A head-turning basket is mounted on top of the new headquarters of Gasabo District, the nation's birthplace. Way before the new building was constructed, agaseke was placed in the middle of Rwanda's coat of arms.|08

TRADITIONAL DANCE Entertaining tourists is an alternative source of income

visit to Rwanda is never complete without experiencing the  

celebrations, among other factors. During the shows, interested

country's traditional dance. The

visitors can join the dancers on

dance forms an integral part of

stage and emulate their swaying

ceremonies, festivals, social

while donning traditional attire.

gatherings and storytelling. Dancing with members of the host There is a variety of styles which are

communities is the best way to feel

not part of the famous Intore

their vibe and capture their spirit.

dance. These include Ikinimba, Umushayayo, Ibihozo and many

The highly choreographed dance


involves singing, drumming and a wide range of spectacular moves,

Historically, dance styles were

including coordinated steps and

influenced by geographical

gravity-defying leaps.

locations and the nature of the|09


Imigongo artisans create frames and draw patterns. The sketches are then developed into pronounced geometrical features.

migongo art originated from an area known as Gisaka in present-day Kirehe District. It was invented by Prince Kakira in the 18th Century.


Imigongo artisans create frames and draw patterns. The sketches are then developed into pronounced geometrical features. Materials used are cow dung, ash and glue. A few more final touch procedures follow before a layer of paint is added to the mix. Their creative work requires specialized skills and attention to detail. Traditionally, cows are prized possessions symbolizing wealth. In today's cash-driven economy, cattle ownership continues to upgrade standards of living.

Beef and diary products are sought after consumables. Horns, hoofs and hides are highly demanded raw materials in the rapidly growing manufacturing industry. Communities have been using cow dung as manure for a very long time. Lately, what could easily be discarded as waste has become a source of biogas and electricity. Imigongo entrepreneurs on the other hand, use it to mould decorative pieces of art while preserving their culture.

Urugo Roadside CafĂŠ Your ideal stopover en route to Akagera National Park

he aroma of fresh coffee is irresistible to many. There is a huge difference between the fresh, locally grown coffee and those stale products occupying space on the shelves of supermarkets the world over. Inorganic lifeless concoctions that are consumed one year after being processed. Rwanda is a specialty coffee producer. Most beans grown in the country are either Bourbon or Bourbon-derivative. According to the Rwanda Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), there are more than 400,000 coffee fields in the country, covering an area of approximately 42,000 hectares. Coffee is an important generator of foreign currency. Moreover, the crop supports the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of families in different parts of the country.|11

Located in Kayonza, Urugo Roadside Café is ideal for tourists en route to Akagera National Park.

A coffee experience dubbed 'Crop to Cup' is offered by different tour operators. Through this unique experience, tourists are taught how to convert a crop into their favorite aromatic beverage. It is also a great opportunity for them to savor what is most likely the purest and freshest coffee they have ever sampled. In addition, the experience gives them a better understanding of the crop's supply chain.

More and more coffee shops are being set up in response to the growing number of consumers. Akagera-bound tourists leave Kigali as early as 4 in the morning. That is way before the conventional breakfast time. Located in Kayonza, Urugo Roadside Café is ideal for tourists craving for coffee and quick bites on their way to the park. A rejuvenating coffee break on the way back to the capital is also highly recommended. Dropping by the café after a memorable game drive will tempt you to spend your money on more than coffee and pastries. Yogurt and other dairy products are also available.|12

These products are processed, packaged and branded by women from the local community. Their gifted hands are also responsible for the creation of a wide range of handicrafts and fashion items displayed for sale in the gift shops set up on both sides of the café. By purchasing these products, you will be contributing to the empowerment of women and socio-economic transformation of the community in the grand scheme of things. When enabled, women are capable of improving the welfare of not only their families but also their communities and the entire nation.

CRAFTS MARKET Developing practical skills needed to create marketable products has proven to be a game changer

he atrocities of 1994 restructured Rwanda's gender ratio drastically. The aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsi and the ensuing exodus begot a depleted nation whose women formed about 70% of the population.

has groomed more than 76,000 entrepreneurs since 1997.Â

Consequently, many women across the country found themselves shouldering the responsibility of providing for their families.

The Urugo Women's Opportunity Center has outlets stacked with unique souvenirs. By purchasing these items, you will be making a difference in the community.

Beneficiaries of the center's year-long program are equipped with what it takes to transform raw materials into marketable products.

Thrust into an unfamiliar territory, many rural women didn't fare well in the competitive job market due to limited formal education or lack thereof. The Urugo Women's Opportunity Center helps women to break the long-standing barrier formed by generations of marginalization. The center was built by Women for Women International, courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies and other donors. Women for Women supports vulnerable women in post-conflict countries. In Rwanda, the non for profit organization|13


eluxe camping has become a popular phrase in the travel industry lately. Also known as glamorous camping, or simply glamping, this trend fuses luxury and simplicity. It appeals to travelers seeking camping experiences without compromising the comfort of their own bedrooms. In Rwanda, this upscale dimension of camping is offered by the Urugo Women's Opportunity Center. Unlike traditional tents, Urugo's deluxe ones are equipped with Wi-Fi, en suite solar-powered hot showers and verandas. Spurred by a growing number of tourists traversing the globe, luxury resorts are sprouting up in places we once called remote. Despite this massive investment in hotels, camping has remained popular. There are numerous adventurers out there trying to get up, close and personal with nature. For them, camping in the wilderness does the trick. On the other hand, there are those who prefer to bond with nature whilst enjoying basic home amenities. Deluxe camping caters for both groups.|14

Apart from the safari tents, Urugo Ecolodge has shared rooms with two bunk beds each. The lodge is part of an innovative social enterprise designed to empower women. It is suitable for adventure, conferences and retreats. Furthermore, the facility offers unmatched cultural and community-based excursions. Â

Urugo Yogurt Vanilla & Strawberry

0788 350 577



Your ideal stopover en route to Akagera National Park

0788 350 577

Profile for George Baguma

Urugo Women's Opportunity Center  

Inspiring stories from women living in the Eastern Province of Rwanda

Urugo Women's Opportunity Center  

Inspiring stories from women living in the Eastern Province of Rwanda