African diaspora At Work awards celebrate the work of African diaspora who contribute to the development of the continent. The winner of the award Salha Kaitesi was selected by readers of Africa on the Blog –
She took time out of her busy schedule to speak to our Editor
- congratulations on being our first winner please introduce yourself and your company to our reader. Who is Salha and what inspired you to start your business?
My name is Salha Kaitesi and I am the CEO/Owner of Beauty of Rwanda, a company that works to empower women and their children in Rwanda. On a trip to Rwanda my motherland I came across basket weavers and knew right then that they were the people I wanted to help the most. I didn’t know how this help was going to come about so I gave it a little more thought and that is when I came up with the idea of me buying the beautiful handwoven crafts then selling them to the western market on a website. The website is now up and running http://beautyofrwanda.com and orders are shipped worldwide.
The basket weavers are women facing poverty in rural Rwanda and weaving is the only source of income for them. These women survived the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and would love to see then survive poverty too. Our campaign to end poverty for many is called “OnlyOneBasket”. This is where we ask you to buy at least one piece of basket/craft from our website in order to help these women. The more crafts we sell the more we help these women help themselves.
How has your business grown? What risks have you taken in order to grow/develop your business? What would you say have been your main achievements since starting up? What problems have you had to overcome and how did you do it?
Business is growing at a slow but steady pace and are confident that in a few years it will be a lot better. The more people get to hear about us the more sales we get. Having a Twitter account and a facebook fan page has made this possible. Starting the business solemnly as an online business is a risk that I had to take. Had no experience with e-commerce or business as a whole. Learned everything and still learning new things every day. On the 11th November 2011, Beauty of Rwanda celebrated its first anniversary. That is our greatest achievement to date. I didn’t know how the year was going to go so am shocked but pleased that even to this day, despite all the obstacles that I have come across, I still feel the same way I felt when I met those women in Rwanda years ago- if not more.
In March of this year, I was voted as one of the 20 inspirational women of African diaspora in Europe. Will forever be grateful to those who took their time to vote for me. Finding out on 8th March- International womens day made it extra special.
Lol … I don’t think I need 400 words to describe the success of the business. A sentence perhaps? Passion, courage, hard work, determination and love for my people.
By how much has your turnover (in percentage terms) increased since 20 November 2010
40 percent! All thanks to friends and well wishers. Beauty of Rwanda, has a working group via our LinkedIn account (BoR Working Group) and hoping to have a much higher turnover in years to come. The working group will be focussing on ways to improve our work around the world. We are yet to fully start working. Lately, I have been up to my eye balls with this and that but work should be in earnest in early next year.