Business As Mission Spotlight

Jean Marie Vianney Ndabarinze, or JMV as his friends call him, was a school teacher in the Northern Province of Rwanda for many years.  He taught in a small village which was an hour walk to work. Although he loved teaching children, he found that he was not able to provide for his family.  His wife had to take a job digging holes to help provide extra income. Even with his wife working, they were still not able to send their four children to school because of the school fees, and they were only eating one meal a day that wasn’t very nutritious.

Wanting things to be different, JMV took matters into his own hands.  He saved up enough money and purchased 3 chickens in hopes of starting a full fledged chicken business. He was on the right path, but needed a bit of help in becoming a successful entrepreneur.  That is where Belay comes in.  We recently traveled to JMV’s farm to interview him about his journey as an entrepreneur and as a husband and father supporting his family.

Our lives improved 90% after we started the chicken farm. We were now able to eat at night, my wife did not have to dig in the fields anymore, and we could pay all of the school fees for our four children.

Ndabarinze Jean Marie Vianney

Owner, JMV Chickens

How did the idea for chickens come about?

During the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 I fled to Congo. I returned in 1997 to be a teacher.  The salary was very low and I could not provide for my family. My children were not eating enough protein, so I had an idea to grow chickens. So, I saved money and purchased three chickens so that we could have omelets each day so my children can get protein and eat better. So, we had three eggs every day for my family. From there, I had an idea that I could grow many chickens.  A chicken farm would produce a much better salary, and I could support my family much better.

So, you started this chicken business, but you quickly ran into some struggles early on.  Share some of those challenges with us.

Some of the challenges included my lack of knowledge with working with chickens.  At first, some of the chickens were dying of disease. I also lacked knowledge in how to run a business successfully. Another problem was that I had no capital to put into the business, and finding sources of capital in Rwanda is very difficult. Because of these challenges we were taking a loss on our income.

How did partnering with Belay global change the outcome of your new business?

Belay helped us on how to create and manage a business plan for our farm.  They also taught us how to manage our money. Belay also showed us how to expand our business, making it grow very successful. Belay connected me with a team from Canada who came to my farm and helped me expand my barn.

What has changed for you and your family because of this business?

After setting up this business with the chicken farm, our lives improved 90%.  We were now able to afford to eat at night (before was just one meal a day), we had protein in our diet for every meal, my wife did not have to work in the fields digging anymore so she could now manage the chicken farm, we were able to expand our house, and we could afford the school fees for all of our children.

What words of wisdom would you give to other Rwandan entrepreneurs who have aspirations of starting a business like you?

I would tell them to understand that they can be successful even if they don’t have capital.  They need to work very hard and to not waste time.  Focus hard on the quality of your work.

What would you tell someone in america about how they can help Rwandan entrepreneurs become successful?

Many Rwandans want to change their lives to help their families, but the [resources] are not available. You can teach entrepreneurs how to grow success in a business and how to expand a business.  We are very willing to work, but we need help to grow in knowledge.