Muvurajabo Theophile, who goes by Theo, lives in Burundi, Africa. His growing business, “Cafeteria Iwacu” illustrates the impact that SHAPE is making in Africa. Below, Theo shares his story of starting his own business through a micro-loan from SHAPE. He shares how he is using it to now empower others. I interviewed him through email to learn more about his experience. His success demonstrates how micro-loans can change lives.
I was hopeless and unable to start my own business. I spent a long time looking for a job. I did painting, but I was always thinking and wishing to work as a business owner because the painting was a temporary position. In my mind I was always praying and asking God to open opportunities to study at a University. On 18th August, 2010, I received a blessing from John Mann’s family that allowed me to realize my dreams. After implementation of my business, I remarked that it was hard to realize the success for my business even though it was planned. I worked hard to be successful and I was. I was happy to see my business in prosperity. After one year in working, I got a new loan to expand my business and this was my way to prosper but it did not move as I was hoping because I faced many difficulties. Many people copied my project and started setting them up near my business location. They were having great capital where they were buying and selling with low prices on the items. I was psychologically affected and tried many ways to solve those issues and it was hard. Almost seven months passed and I tried to change business style and this didn’t work. After one of the competitors failed because of using many workers and closed the door, I continued to work hard and hope in God’s will. In April, 2013, my business has started improving slowly and now I am working hard to increase my income. The plan of God is better than our plans. We have to stay kind and faithful all the time even when our plans do not move as well as we want. Failure is inevitable, but trying out many different solutions is the best way to move past failure. Now my business is going well and I’m working hard to make a difference.
Q. When did you start your business and when did the initial planning and dreams of starting your own business take place?
A. I started my business on 18th August, 2010. Because of the poverty in our country many young are jobless. After being jobless for six years, it pushed me to think about what I can contribute to my society. I especially wanted to support my mom and sisters and was thinking of a way to finance my university studies. I started out with a small business for the purpose of helping my mom and sisters.
Q. What is the greatest lesson you‘ve learned while running your business?
A. Nothing is easy, we have to work hard in order to succeed what we dream or plan to realize. Sometimes, failure or a dysfunctional business gives us new opportunities.
Q. How do you believe your business is making a difference in your community?
A. I have many youth come and ask me how I was able to start my business while living in poverty. Also, my location is near students who need merchandise. The taxes I pay benefit the commune.
Q. Do you have future goal with your business? Maybe expansion?
I have great dreams to realize a big shop where all people from Bujumbura North will get all necessities without going at main market. I also have a goal to open new blanches where I will be able to give job to others.
Even if I faced many difficulties, God’s hands stay always on my family and I. Now I am ending my bachelor studies in God’s way by using incomes from that small business owner. We have to work because by nothing, nothing comes! Thank for all friends who supported my family and I in many ways. God bless everyone.