When you invest in a young woman, what is your “return on investment”?
At Komera, it’s the change that happens in a young woman, in a mother, in a family, and in a community.
It’s the story of the transformation of a young woman named Livine, when Komera invested in her future.
Livine grew up in a dirt home with very little to call her own. Her mother raised Livine and her two brothers on her own, a single mom who took care of the children, cooked, cleaned – and also worked, as she needed income to support her family. Her mother sold beans and grain at the local market, transporting huge bags to and from her stand to earn just enough to keep the family going.
As in most families in rural Rwanda, Livine’s two brothers went to school, but when money was tight, it was the girl, Livine, who would not have the same chance as her brothers. Her mother badly wanted to educate her only girl, and wanted a better life for Livine than the one she had. When Livine applied to become a Komera scholar, and was awarded a scholarship, the whole family celebrated! Livine was given a chance! As part of the Komera family now, Livine’s mother was invited to join the Komera Parent Cooperative and receive business development training and seed funding to grow her business.
Livine advocated to Komera staff that she must attend a special boarding school, as she was a gifted child and scored well on her exams. She received a full scholarship to Groupe Scholaire Officiel, and completed her Senior 3-6 with flying colors.
Upon graduating from Secondary School, Livine entered the Komera Post Secondary Transition Program eager to learn business skills to support her mother’s small business. While in the program, Livine got a job working part time at nearby Partners in Health. She attended courses all day, worked after school, and studied at night. Komera scholars receive a stipend for transport to and from the program office, to take a bus or local transportation. Driven and dedicated, Livine saved her stipend and walked both ways, saving every penny she could.
When Livine received her certificate from the Post Secondary Transition Program, her mother was by her side at the special graduation ceremony, always her #1 advocate. While Livine had been away at school, her mother became sick, making it even more challenging for her to carry her bags of beans and grain to the market. With Livine’s savings from her hard work over the past year, she bought her mother a bicycle! Now her mom could do her business with ease, and she quickly became a profitable seller at the market.
Hardship hit the family again when rainfall and soil erosion badly damaged their home, making it unlivable, and putting the family of 4 out on the street. Livine used her new found voice and confidence to advocate for help. Neighbors donated land, and Livine put in her own savings, sweat and tears, and worked brick by brick to build her mother a new home.
Inspired by her daughter’s determination, Livine’s mother is now taking on a leadership role on the Komera Council of the Parent Cooperative to support parents and guardians of scholars who are start their own small ventures. She is able to give back what she has learned and inspire others with her success.
In 2016 Livine’s hard work and studying paid off when she received a scholarship for the prestigious Akilah Institute, one of the top colleges in Rwanda, where she is now studying business.
Beginning with a simple scholarship to high school, Livine has changed the future for herself, her family, and her community. We can’t wait to cheer Livine on at her college graduation, with her mother there by her side.