Close this search box.

From being a Janitor to a Designer: Entrepreneur shares his journey to establishing ‘Kwesa’

Success is never an overnight miracle. To understand success one must first understand. This is the journey of Nsengiyumva Alain Abraham, who owns a fashion house named “Kwesa”

At the beginning of the 2023/24 sports season, fortunes smiled upon this young man. His designs started gaining popularity towards the end of 2022. At that time, social media started flooding with photos of young men and women dressed in clothing featuring stripes or the word ‘Rwanda’.

Consequently, Kwesa became an official apparel partner for Rayon Sports, providing both field and fan wear.

Kwesa was an idea Nsengiyumva conceived in China where he pursued a third-level degree in Business and Information Technology.

This 25-year-old man has a passion for sports and modeling. He started designing models using the money he earned from janitor jobs in China and creating shirts with the word ‘Rwanda’ written on them.

Gradually, Rwandans in China appreciated his clothing, motivating him to produce more.

In a conversation with Kura, Nsengiyumva reflected on various aspects, including his journey in establishing the fashion house ‘Kwesa’, collaborating with Rayon Sports, and other related matters.

Kura: How did the idea of founding Kwesa come about?

Nsengiyumva: In 2018, when I went to study Business and International Economics in China, I had the opportunity to represent well in a competition I participated in Singapore. I noticed how people wore clothing that represented their country and thought I should do the same.

Generally, Kwesa means to achieve or fulfill a goal. We design models, and most of the production is in Rwanda, except some that we have to produce in China due to their advanced technology needs.

What was your journey like up to your partnership with Rayon Sports?

When I was in China, the “Visit Rwanda” campaign became very popular, making me wonder, ‘What can I do to promote my country?’

Starting with normal clothes, I began to print shirts with ‘Rwanda’ on them or added patterns, especially ones representing our culture. Later, I showcased these designs in sports, producing both off-field and on-field sports apparel.

Was there any challenge?

Over there (in China), working was tiring but paid well. So, I saved up, bought shirts, customized them, and sold them. The profit helped me progress.

Remembering a job I once had, earning about $200 a month, I started printing regular shirts with ‘Rwanda’, and Rwandans in China started loving them. This boosted my earnings.

How did you think of partnering with Rayon Sports?

When starting something, you first consider the market’s feedback. So, observing our teams, I realized their uniforms lacked distinct branding. Approaching Rayon Sports, a strong team with many fans, was a strategic move, and luckily they understood.

Regarding the money you mentioned, in business, acquiring rights to use another’s brand is valuable. Hence, you need to buy it for both parties to benefit mutually.

Having branded apparel helps Rayon Sports or any other team have an additional income stream apart from match day earnings, ensuring players get their dues on time.

How was your apparel received after partnering with Rayon Sports?

The transformation has been significant, far beyond expectations. Selling more than six thousand shirts is a huge achievement. Before, I used to sell about 100 shirts a week, but now it’s tripled, especially the Rayon Sports apparel.

Regarding staffing, I now have 10 permanent employees, and some part-time workers join during the launch of new designs.

What major challenges did you encounter on your journey?

The biggest challenge was when people didn’t appreciate my designs initially.

Another challenge was during Covid-19 when I was in China. Getting the clothes to Rwanda was quite difficult.

I overcame these by diversifying my clothing designs, providing a variety for clients. If they didn’t like one, they could opt for another.

Any other teams you might work with?

Yes, we’re in talks, and soon, you’ll see another top-tier team wearing our designs. This is just the beginning. Not just in football, I can also produce apparel for Basketball, Volleyball, and other sports.

Where do you see Kwesa in the next five years?

I’ve realized my initial dreams. I wanted a team in Rwanda to wear Kwesa, clothes made in Rwanda. My future dream is to see Kwesa not just in Rwanda but also internationally, just like how brands in Europe produce for other countries. One day, I want to see a foreign team wearing Kwesa.

Any advice for the youth?

My primary advice is to realize that it’s not always about making money first before starting something. And sometimes, those with the smallest means have the best ideas. Youth should engage in platforms the country provides to share ideas and help them realize their dreams.

Also, one might think the small money they have is insignificant and waste it on trivialities. But starting small can be beneficial. I started with very little, and it’s not like I began by branding Arsenal.

Everything is about starting from the bottom and climbing up. The little knowledge you have can elevate you to achieve the massive dreams you have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Straight out of Twitter