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International Women's Day - Rwanda

Friday, 26 Sep 2008

By Frank Higiro

Appoline Kaburame Murangirwa, 52, was born in the Ngororero District of Western Rwanda.

After being exiled from her homeland, losing her husband to war, and selling her car and cows to keep her children in school, Appoline Kaburame Murangirwa was at her wit's end. In 2001, she and her seven children returned to Rwanda from Uganda. Back home, she discovered "I didn’t have anyone to refer to," she said. "I was on my own."

A short time later, Appoline joined a widows' association called Benishyaka that provided counseling and referrals to humanitarian organizations. Appoline was referred to Vision Finance to apply for a business loan. "I had longed for such an opportunity," she said.

Appoline started small. She used her first loan of $109 to sell beans. She turned a profit of $7 a month. "It was like a drop of water in a lake," she said. But she repaid the loan and qualified for successively larger ones, and those made a bigger difference.

Today Appoline earns $350 a month selling imported clothes from Uganda. She owns her own home. Her eldest daughter is studying at the Kigali Institute of Management. The others recently completed high school and aspire for a university education. Appoline herself dreams of expanding her import business. The loans have given her confidence, she said. "I am extremely grateful to God and Vision Finance for restoring a hope in my soul."