Nyamirambo Umitima Cooperative is a project set by the Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 Rwandese women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to women who do not have the means to pay for such training on their own, so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.
In pursuing this mission, NWC has 3 overall objectives:
- To strengthen the institutional and organizational capacity of NWC
- To promote and empower women through capacity development and employment
- To promote women and community-based tourism
To fulfill the mandate of these objectives, NWC offers free classes in literacy, English, basic computer skills, handicrafts and sewing, empowerment trainings on gender based violence and trainings on responsible community based tourism.
At the end of 2013 NWC launched the product line “Umutima,” which means “heart” in Kinyarwanda. With this project, NWC trains and employs women from the community to create a large variety of women’s accessories, children’s clothing, and home decor products. At the moment there are over 50 women employed by Umutima as seamstresses.
Umutima and NWC have grown into a unique, self-sustaining model where the profits earned through Umutima are used to fund NWC initiatives, in addition to providing benefits and a fair wage to the seamstresses. From high quality kitenge fabrics, the women of Umutima Cooperative craft products ranging from children’s clothes, women’s accessories, and home decor with a creative style and outstanding quality that can’t be found at other tailors or markets around Kigali.
Some of the women have learned variety of these skills and have helped them to set up their own business. By shopping or buying the souvenirs at this art craft shop at Nyamirambo Women Center, you directly make great support to these women, as they earn some percentage from the total income generated from each item purchased which is locally made by them.
Together, Umutima and NWC have grown into a unique, self-sustaining model where the profits earned through Umutima are used to fund NWC initiatives, including education and vocational training for women and a library for local children. The library, which opened in 2014, contains books in Kinyarwanda, French and English to foster a culture of reading – and children can also gather there outside their school hours and receive homework help from the librarian
Visit and meet these amazing women, and meet them busy doing their daily task on week days as it has become part of the daily life style, which has also in a long run, boosted on the tourism visit in the area.
Alongside the shop, the cooperative offers sustainable community-based tourism experiences as the number of visitors to the country (in personal and professional capacities) increases. Umitima employs five tour guides who offer community walking tours around the Nyamirambo area, and also runs cooking classes and basketry classes, with the profits returning to the cooperative and its members.
You can visit Nyamirambo Women Center, and have a visit to this project, you can as well take on the Nyamirambo walking tour, or cooking lesson or the basket weaving lesson to color your visit to this great place, with amazing hard working women.