Evelyne Ndikumana is a 37-year-old Burundian artist and painter who transforms recycled paper into jewelry and paints postcards. She has been in this line of work for 15 years.
In March 2021, she attended a training program of the 2EB business hub, which was set up by the government of Burundi to support youth and women: “I was so happy with the training. All the women got to expand our skills.
“Some learnt more about pottery, others about bouquet creation. I could strengthen my painting skills for the postcards, to make them more attractive.”
Following the training from 2EB, Ndikumana and other women decided to launch the Cooperative of Women Artists and Artisans of Burundi (COFAAB).
COFAAB is self-funded and benefits from support from 2EB that grants the women a space to showcase and sell their art. As the president, she explains why COFAAB was launched: “It’s a very good thing that we got together.
“We help each other. We are united, which allows us to improve and go further. We correct ourselves and we learn from each other. Together, we are stronger.”
COFAAB brings together 40 women from all over the country and many more are already asking to join. In addition to legal recognition and solidarity, they each share what they have learned during the various courses they take.
Besides developing her painting skills, Ndikumana was also trained in accounting. Other training focused on developing a marketing plan, taxation and administrative procedures as well as improving product quality.
Diane Akimana is the vice-president of COFAAB and chairs the Women Entrepreneurs and Management Leaders – a small business of about 15 young female students who decided to come together to provide beauty services (hair and makeup, mostly).
She is also pursuing her studies at the University of Burundi, hoping to become an executive assistant. As part of the training provided by 2EB, she learned to carry out market research and pottery.
“Through my job, I earn money to finance my studies which will provide me with the knowledge I need to better develop my business and better contribute to the cooperative.”
Evelyne and Diane have already started to use their new skills. They are aware that in order to grow their business and increase their revenue, they can lean on each other.
As a result of their improved know-how, the newly-trained craftswomen and artists were able to sell goods at a fair organized to close the training sessions from the 2EB business hub, for 3.5 million Burundian francs, or more than $1,750.
To keep up the momentum, a fully equipped room was made available to these women and young people for a year, giving them a space to exhibit their products and continue sales activities. The space will also be used for training and exchanges between artists and craftsmen.
With the financial support of the African Development Bank, the government of Burundi is strengthening the role of the private sector to foster social cohesion, by placing female entrepreneurship and young people at the heart of its efforts.
* Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).