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Young entrepreneur’s ‘Roselle Hibiscus’ business thrives over adversity

Roselyne Nyirahategekimana is a young graduate with a degree in Agriculture. After struggling to find a job, she decided to venture into fruit juice production.

She is among the beneficiaries of a program known as YouthConnekt, aimed at advancing the youth by supporting their ideas and initiatives.

During a testimony on July 23, 2023, marking the 10th anniversary of YouthConnekt, in a ceremony attended by President Kagame, she mentioned that after finishing her studies, she was involved in agricultural projects but soon switched to producing juice, specifically from ‘Roselle Hibiscus’, which became a favorite beverage in her household.

Roselle is a plant that thrives in Rwanda and has significant health benefits. It helps reduce blood pressure, aids digestion, and promotes healthy sleep.

In 2014, while residing in the Rusizi District, specifically in the Nyakabuye sector, Nyirahategekimana founded the ‘Work Roselyn Company’ and began producing juice, starting with just 40,000 Rwandan Francs that she had saved from farming.

By 2016, the sector where she lived provided her with a place to operate, and she used small machines to produce approximately 20 liters of juice daily.

In early 2017, she participated in a competition for young entrepreneurs under ‘YouthConnekt’ but did not win. She said, “I was very disappointed, but the training we received in ‘Bootcamp’ opened my eyes, and I went home with a refined idea.”

She then joined the BK Urumuri program where her juice production project was selected, and she received a loan of 5 million Rwandan Francs to expand her operations.

With this funding, her production increased from 20 liters to between 200-300 liters of fruit and hibiscus juice.

Her luck didn’t stop there. She later received a grant from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of 6 million Rwandan Francs. She said, “This money helped, and my project took off.”

Currently, Nyirahategekimana says she has expanded her operations, partnering with about 200 farmers organized into various groups. She also has eight full-time employees. She sells her juice, commonly referred to as [Juis], in places like Simba Supermarket and other outlets in and outside Rwanda.

She recently attended a trade fair in France, where she had discussions with potential buyers for her juice.

Nyirahategekimana also revealed that she has acquired six hectares of land where she plans to cultivate, moving beyond just producing juice to also planting the seeds and extracting oil, which can be used for homemade juice.

She has also opened a branch in Nyarutamara in Kigali city, while in Rusizi, she uses the facility primarily for harvesting the plants.

Her Advice to the Youth

Nyirahategekimana advised her fellow youths to step out of their homes to seek information about various developmental programs. She said, “I advise the youth to go to the sector, get to know the programs and seek information. That’s the beginning of healing. I knew about YouthConnekt at the sector level.”

Another thing she emphasizes to the youth is integrity and sticking to customer schedules [for those who offer services or products]. “Provide good services, respect the market, work on time, and truly showcase the energy seen in you,” she said.

She continued, “Believe in yourself, and even tell those who don’t believe in us that they should because we are capable. We have the energy, intelligence, and ideas. If they invest in us, they shouldn’t fear investing their money in our projects because we are capable.”

Nyirahategekimana thanked the country’s leader, Paul Kagame, for initiating programs that advance both the youth and the nation at large.

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