Baking up community change
Olive Tuyizeye started her journey as an entrepreneur with a small shop, but had never been able to generate enough income to sustain her family. It was a difficult way to make a living in rural western Rwanda, and Olive knew she needed to do something different if she wanted to have more opportunities for her future.
Through friends on WhatsApp, Olive learned about DOT Rwanda’s social enterprise training, which supports young people to create sustainable businesses that have a positive community impact. She decided to attend the training and to learn more about social entrepreneurship.
During the social enterprise training, Olive’s confidence in herself and her ideas grew. After assessing opportunities in her local market, she decided to start a bakery. Bread, donuts, cakes, African chapati – Olive had always loved baking and she wanted to see if she could turn her hobby into a viable business.
Olive worked with her DOT coach to conduct customer interviews and market research, and she discovered ways of packaging her bread that her customers preferred.
After investing in the equipment and supplies to turn her shop into a bakery, Olive donned a chef’s hat and opened Agahozo Bread Life. Her bakery offers products no other bakery in the area does. Her customer base is growing: more and more shops and people have started to buy her pastries.
Olive was thrilled with her first taste of success but wanted to do more to strengthen her bakery. She started using social media as a tool to advertise her products, and began communicating with her clients primarily through Facebook.
These small changes made a big impact. Equipped with the tools, skills and knowledge to strengthen her business, Olive saw her revenues climb. Yet she began to see how Agahozo Bread Life could be about more than revenue or pastries – it could help address real needs in her community, where other women and young people like her needed opportunities to support themselves and their families. She decided to incorporate training others into her business model.
“I aim to help unemployed youth and women who want to be successful in the baking industry like myself. The delicious bread we sell helps me to pay for training for youth to learn baking skills,’’ she says. “If I triple my products, I will be able to hire more youth and reduce some of the unemployment here – and if I have trained youth in baking, I will have a talented pool to hire from.”
Olive has now been training young people in her community since October 2016. Some of her trainees have been recruited to work at Agahozo Bread Life, while others plan to start their own bakeries in the future.
“I am glad to see the difference I make in these young people’s lives,’’ says Olive.
Olive plans to expand her bakery throughout the Western Province and replicate her model. Her long-term goal is to become a supplier for large commercial companies and organizations like schools and hospitals.
Her hard work and impact in her community has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, Olive was one of the winners of DOT Rwanda’s Gera Ku Ntego Social Enterprise Competition. With her cash prize, she plans to recruit and train more young people to help in her bakery, giving more low-income women and young people a real opportunity to build a secure future.
Olive says it feels good to be creating opportunities for herself and others – and at Agahozo Bread Life, it tastes good too.
“I aim to help unemployed youth and women who want to be successful in the baking industry like myself. The delicious bread we sell helps me to pay for training for youth to learn baking skills. If I triple my products, I will be able to hire more youth and reduce some of the unemployment here – and if I have trained youth in baking, I will have a talented pool to hire from.”