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She started an avocado processing business with just 25,000 Rwandan Francs

Euphrosine Niyidukunda Mugeni from Huye District has a fondness for avocados that inspired her to invest in Avo Health Oil Company Ltd, a company that processes edible oils from this fruit.

Speaking to her peers on May 7, 2024, the 28-year-old revealed that she was motivated by the abundance of avocados in Huye District, where, despite a large output, avocados often spoil or are converted into animal feed, offering little profit to avocado farmers.

This observation led her to contemplate how she could capitalize on the produce she grew up around, which was often wasted and provided little benefit to avocado farmers.

Mugeni shared that she first conceived the idea in 2016, and towards the end of that year, she attended a training program by DOT Rwanda, where she won 400,000 Rwandan Francs to start utilizing.

In July 2017, their concept won a 5 million Rwandan Francs award from Youth Connect after finishing in second place.

She recounted an episode from her childhood at the age of seven, where she asked her father why nobody brought them avocado fruit juice, knowing it could be a viable fruit. “He laughed a lot and told me that he hadn’t seen avocado juice being made anywhere, but he mentioned that he had heard that in Europe, they make cooking oil from it. I immediately told him that when I grow up, I would make it from avocados. He laughed and said it was impossible and that I wouldn’t be able to do it, encouraging me instead to become a doctor and treat people.”

As Niyidukunda attended secondary school, she studied Mathematics, Economics, and Geography, which she initially did not enjoy much, but grew to appreciate more as she progressed, eventually earning her the opportunity to study Business at university.

While studying investment at school, she felt it was something unattainable as she believed it required a certain amount of capital to start one’s own business.

In 2016, she attended the Itorero Intagamburuzwa camp, which invited various guests including young entrepreneurs. One of the speakers had turned sweet potatoes into bread, doughnuts, and explained how he started using household utensils.

At one point, another speaker encouraged them to look back at their roots to identify a problem which could be turned into an opportunity instead of just a problem.

“He told us not to see the problems as just problems but as solutions. Look back to where you come from; the problems there can give you a project idea to find a solution, and it could also create jobs and advance you and other youth.”

That’s when she recalled the significant waste of avocado produce in Huye District and decided to find a solution towards the end of 2016.

Starting with the 25,000 Rwandan Francs monthly scholarship given to university students, she began sourcing avocados to process, despite challenges and discouragement from people around her.

“It continued; I worked and tried different approaches, facing setbacks and discouragement, but eventually, I managed to produce a small amount of oil and participated in Dot Rwanda’s competition in 2017, where my project finished second and I won 400,000 Rwandan Francs. That money was what I started with, continuing to work gradually.”

Niyidukunda later participated in the YouthConnekt competition, which supports various youth projects, and won, receiving a 3 million Rwandan Francs prize.

Today, she employs 12 people after a challenging journey where she did everything herself.

She noted that many youths see amounts exceeding 25,000 Rwandan Francs, thus they should start thinking about how to progress instead of just seeking pleasure.

“To the youth, I say the journey to success is tough and demanding but ultimately rewarding. In the five to six years I’ve been doing this, today we have our product on the market with quality certification. We sell both in the Rwandan market and internationally.”

She encouraged young people with diverse talents to start thinking about solving issues that affect the Rwandan community and finding solutions that promote their local area, residence, and the country at large.

Straight out of Twitter