Hannah's Excellent Eastern Adventure

Doing business in Rwanda is certainly an education in linguistics, and I learned this during my visit to the Urugero Women’s Cooperative in Rwamagama yesterday. In hopes of procuring banana fibre for our research in the United States, I went to the East of Rwanda to meet with the women’s cooperative who had been trained in extraction and to try to bargain with them for the price of fibre which had been rapidly increasing as both the banana farmers and the women’s coop realized there was money to be made.

The conversation over the price of fibre switched between a terrible hybrid of French, English and Kinyarwanda. Jokes were made that then had to be passed from one language to the next like some ridiculous form of the telephone game, and business transactions were interpreted over and over again until everyone was confident that their sentiments had been properly articulated to the other party. However, despite the language barriers and the potential for misunderstandings, the interaction was remarkably amiable and everyone ultimately wanted the best for the business. In the end there were smiles all around, and I was presented with a beautiful piece of artwork made from banana leaves which I cherish. The visit was not just a great excuse to get out of Kigali but an opportunity to connect with some of the women whose lives SHE is hoping to have a positive impact on as our business grows.



BS Kyambadde said...

Hi Elizabeth! Exciting to see you and 'SheInnovates' are addressing the sanitation needs of Rwandan women as entrepreneural opportunities. I hope your business does encourage others out there to view/engage Rwanda (and Africa) for the entrepreneural opportunities (and not charity).

Founder; Chief Instigating Officer, Elizabeth Scharpf said...

Thanks for your comment, BS Kyambadde. I'm glad you agree with our approach.
We view entrepreneurial approaches as the stepping stone to self-sustainability.

Consolata said...

This is really encouraging Elizabeth. I would wish to know how far you have gone with the project. Any chances of coming to Kenya? I am a Director of Womans Hope Trust and we do visit the needy girls with the basis items like Sanitary and pants. I wish to know how we can get them at an affodable price.