Young women become innovative during COVID-19
Kamikazi Charlotte, age 22, started her detox juice business March of this year. She was motivated to start this business due to having a father who is diabetic. She said, “I am a medical student, so, I made research to know what he could or could not eat. I then started making these juices for him.” It was not long until Kamikazi realized that other people were enjoying the juices that were initially meant for her father. Prior to the pandemic, Kamikazi was working as a sales agent for a group called Phoenix Plaza. But after the outbreak, she was forced to stop working and was no longer receiving any income. This young woman then proceeded to start a business, delivering healthy juices.
“I never thought I would be one to start a business. I simply thought it was not for me, and I would not even know where to begin. But COVID-19 forced me to become innovative, and create for myself a source of income, and it is the best decision I have ever made” she said. Kamikazi experienced a few challenges when she first started the business, like any other entrepreneur. She struggled with her fears of not being able to lift the business from the ground up, flunking it, finding customers, and how to overall manage the business. “I had the idea for a while but I hesitated to act on it. One time, my friends came over to my house for a hangout, and suddenly they started talking about their businesses. Some wanted to start their own but had fears of their own while others already owned a business. The more we talked, the more inspired I got. I immediately decided that the next day I was going to buy the necessary materials.” Kamikazi, despite her fears, started her business, telling herself that all that matters, is that she starts it even if it takes time. Fortunately for this young business owner, her business took off almost immediately. “On the first day, I had over 20 orders, I could not believe it. And from there, things just kept going up.” Kamikazi went on to share the goal of her business, and the difference it makes in society today.
“At times, it is hard to tell people what my business is about because they are not just juices, and often people do not understand the health impacts. These are healthy juices made from fruits with nothing added to them. That means no sugar, no water, no ice, for detox purposes. The goal is to improve people’s health, whether it is to cleanse one’s liver, or lose weight, or boost the immune system.” She also added that although it is a struggle to find ecofriendly packaging, hence shipping them from other countries, increasing the amount of expenses, it is still a priority to her because her business is health-based.
Kamikazi concluded by encouraging other young women to be innovative, and create their own source of incomes. “It is freeing to have my own business. I do not have to work for other people, I set my own rules and boundaries. I am also able to directly make an impact in people’s lives. Additionally, I am more confident. I went from thinking owning a business is something that is specific to a certain class of people, to being sure that I am good at this, and I can even achieve more as long as I put my mind to it. Of course, handling a business while I am also a student, and while the economy is tanking, becomes a bit much to handle, but then again these are juices I make from home, and the motorcycles I use for delivery are always available, so it is doable, and profitable at the same time. Most importantly, I am passionate about my business, and the impact I have made, and will continue to make.”
Izabayo Priscilla, age 29, started her business this year as well, June. She wanted to start her business since 2017, but lacked time. Izabayo owns a business that prints quotes, and phrases onto clothes, bags, and more. COVID-19 to her, was an opportunity that allowed her to creatively work on her idea, and implement it. “The pandemic influenced to start my business because I had more time to invest into materializing my dreams and ideas. I thought if not now then, when? And I also had time to realize the connections that are available to me, that enabled me to start. Granted no one owns shares, but I have people that helped me further my business which makes it a lot easier, because it is really hard doing it all on your own.”
Izabayo has people that help her buy the stock, others that help her with printing, while she handles design-making, photoshoots and marketing. Like any other business owner, she also faced a few challenges as well, additionally due to this pandemic. She said, “due to COVID-19, stock is more expensive. Usually, we obtained stock from neighboring countries, but because not a lot is allowed to cross the borders these days, stock has been my biggest challenge.” Although, she is currently struggling with finding stock, Izabayo feels it is worth it she has started her own business. She shared that she is making good profit, even with economy being rough at the moment. “Within the first of week of me starting my business, I was able to break even. And now, I have orders every week, so, I am content.” Izabayo concluded that COVID-19 not only gave her time to start her business, but also allowed her to grow her market on social media, since people spend more time on their phones now than they did prior to the pandemic. She also added, “it has been beautiful to me, to witness how many people offered and continue to offer their support. I encourage other young women to run with their vision.”
Young women across Rwanda are encouraged to pursue their dreams, especially during this crisis. Kamikazi and Izabayo, amidst COVID-19, opted to work on forming their visions into something substantial, that ought to call other young women to be part of the change.