Home Business & TechCompanies Successful Women Entrepreneurs Tell Their Financial Journey with Bank of Kigali 

Successful Women Entrepreneurs Tell Their Financial Journey with Bank of Kigali 

by Daniel Sabiiti
9:42 am

Women empowered by BK at the Women’s Day gala dinner in Kigali

The Bank of Kigali (BK) Group has joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Women’s Day with its royal female customers.

The day was an opportunity to share stories of success in business, leadership and resilience against all challenges.

The glamorous event was held in Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) with testimonies from the CEO of BK, Dr. Diane Karusisi and other BK women business owners who have been financed by the bank.

During a panel discussion themed: “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”, Karusisi was asked about her journey to leading the bank, how the bank is empowering and investing in female staff 

She was also requested to share some initiatives that the bank has implemented to drive women’s

financial inclusion.

BK CEO Dr. Diane Karusisi

Karusisi said that her journey started as a student who liked to study hard, perform highly, be organized. Being a bright student, she got her first job ever very quickly.

“The best chance I got was to return to Rwanda because it was not just a job but also the availability of opportunities to be a leader. I was very good at mathematics but someone saw the potential in me to be a leader,” Karusisi narrated.

Karusisi said that she has grown as a leader, collaborating with others in building the country’s vision. Joining BK, in 2016; she has led the bank for eight years, to become the best in the country.

Karusisi stated that the bank has majority women staff, which is evidence that women can, and women are able; an aspect she says is one of the reasons why BK is top or one of the best performing banks.

BK Financially Empowering women

Karusisi said that BK ensures access to finance for women through the BK Urumuri initiative which mentors young women business owners to grow in business. 

“We saw that women can and all who have gone through the urumuri program are able. That is why we are focusing on mentorship this year so that the women can know their business and do it as a profession,” Karusisi said.

Roselyne Nyirahategekimana

Roselyne Nyirahategekimana, the founder of Work Roselyne Ltd- a hibiscus products business and a beneficiary of the BK Urumuri initiative- (4th edition 2020), who started in 2018 working from home in Rusizi district shared her testimony. 

Nyirahategekimana said that her business grew when she came into encounter with BK Urumuri financing, which enabled her to operate in Kigali to supply supermarkets, growing from three to over 40 supermarkets. Her sales have come from Rwf140,000 to over Rwf1million per supply, which has enabled her to employ permanent salaried staff (4 women).

“Besides this funding, the initiative has a mentorship program which helps you to know how to account, to market, and reach the clients. At the time, I was not only a BK client but BK became my teacher,” Nyirahategekimana said.

Two young girls were recognized for saving with the BK at an early age

Nyirahategekimana says that she got a good mentor who helped her to grow the business to get more clients but also currently growing raw materials on a 3-hectare piece of land she acquired out of the BK Urumuri interest free loan financing.

The bank CEO revealed that BK has women’s products which are of zero interest but urged the need to focus on savings; and even women are good at it, Karusisi said this should be empowered in them as a mentality.

Beating Financial Challenges

Evas Kyomugisha

Another testimony came from Evas Kyomugisha, Founder and Managing Director of SilverBells Rwanda- a school for children with special needs who got a facility from BK to expand her school. 

“We had to work hard and started with five children, and by the end of the month we had 50 students. When you do a good job, in the education sector, this markets your business. Currently, we have close to 660 children and 107 staff (80% women),” Kyomugisha said.

The other challenge was getting investment capital, but Kyomugisha said that with the BK financing and hard work she was able to purchase their own structures and parents have more trust in the school.

Chantal Maweya, the founder of New Kigali Designers, who has been in business for 29 years and has a loan facility with BK also shared challenges she faced as a woman entrepreneur in her early years.

Chantal Maweya

Maweya revealed that she started with two sewing machines in 1995, with one co-worker (female tailor). She had a problem of collateral to access loan. 

However, working with various financial institutions, including BK, she managed to get support to grow the business and since registering it in 2005, she has grown to 300 employees (70% women) making made in Rwanda clothes.

“The woman of today is different from the past. She has access to finance and for my back is BK. I opened an account in 2005, and one thing they have done is to enable us access finance to invest in our first factory in Gisozi, giving us working capital, but also funds to build skills,” Maweya said.

Odette Nyiramilimo said she is a loyal client who has tasted the good services at the Bank of Kigali

One of the clients, Odette Nyiramilimo, former Senator, Minister of State for Social Affairs, who turned businesswoman said she owes it to BK for listening to her ideas and offering financing which has seen her build a hotel (Rushel Kivu Resort).

“I built it step by step as a retirement package but now that I know there is an opportunity I will turn it into a four-star hotel… I reached this level because of the first loan from BK, and I am sure more is possible,” Nyiramilimo said.

What Should Be Done?

Ingrid Karangwayire, the Executive Secretary of BK Foundation revealed that as a way of empowering small businesses of women, the 8th Urumuri edition will focus on women with all kinds of businesses- to get free  interest loans without collateral.

Ingrid Karangwayire, the Executive Secretary of BK Foundation called on women to take advantage of the 8th BK Urumuri edition this year

The urumuri initiative comes with mentoring 25 selected business owners with expertise from Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development.

BK Group CEO, Béata Uwamaliza Habyarimana said that the international women’s day is commonly referred to as the international women’s rights day thus an opportunity to reflect on the past journey made.

BK Group CEO, Béata Uwamaliza Habyarimana advocated for improved women spaces and policies at work places

In these women’s rights, Habyarimana said that there is the role of BK and clients, which comes with offering products and services to financially empower women. 

“We don’t just inspire change; we are the change. This is a take home for all of us here to be the way, to be the change, so that people can see the women (your employee) is able and has the right environment to perform her duties,” Habyarimana said referring to the need to create women’s spaces at work that enable them at workplaces.

Béata Uwamaliza Habyarimana (left) said Women’s Day was an opportunity to reflect on the past journey made in achieving their rights, especially financial inclusion

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