Alumna Spotlight: Grace Mutoni

Grace Mutoni
After graduation, Akilah students embark on exciting entrepreneurial and professional pursuits — and have valuable successes, stories, and lessons to share. Follow our alumnae after they leave Akilah on Medium or here on our blog.

I’m proud to be a part of my department at One Acre Fund. We work as a family. Everyone is so supportive and it inspires you to work hard and on more things.”

Grace Mutoni, Akilah Rwanda Class of 2013, submitted three job applications when she was graduating from Akilah. She was offered all three positions, but chose Corporate Operations Assistant with One Acre Fund’s Kigali office because she admired their work and was looking for a long-term position with room to grow. And that’s precisely what she’s found.

One Acre Fund works with local farmers across East Africa to increase agricultural productivity by providing seeds and fertilizer, training in new techniques, and support with financing and market access. Grace was impressed by what they do:

One Acre Fund serves local people by providing fertilizers, seeds, and other things to help farmers and farms grow bigger. They help local people and do a lot of things to help our community. I was interested because I am passionate about helping my community and developing my country.”

It has been particularly rewarding to see the impact of One Acre Fund’s work. As part of her onboarding, Grace had the opportunity to go out and see what happens on the ground:

We planned visits and went to meet farmers to talk to them, find out how they are doing, and how they feel about what One Acre Fund does for them. I came to know so much from these visits and the different farmers in the field.”

Grace has been with One Acre Fund for a little over a year and has already been promoted twice. From her position as Corporate Operations Assistant, she became Corporate Operations Manager, and was recently made Office Manager for the entire Kigali operation. With a staff of 35, it is her responsibility to manage all office needs, guests, and financial accounts for corporate operations. It’s been a lot to learn, but she’s had incredible support:

I had the chance to work with a good manager, who helps me and is very supportive. Every day at work, she is around me, correcting me. I’ve come to learn a lot of things about accounting, balancing tasks, and leadership. She gives me lots of responsibilities and has always been there to direct me forward. When you are working with a manager that treats you well, you find yourself working hard to make him or her proud and happy. That has helped my career because I know that when I’m going to do something, my manager will be supportive. You always work hard to reach her level.”

Grace also finds a lot of support from other Akilah alumnae. Two other students from the class of 2013 (Vestine Ukwishaka and Scovia Kabatesi) work with One Acre Fund. Although they aren’t based in Kigali, they are also in the Corporate Operations department and the three women work closely together. Grace often travels to the One Acre Fund headquarters in the Western Province for two to three days at a time where they coordinate and catch up.

[quote]I was interested [in joining One Acre Fund] because I am passionate about helping my community and developing my country.[/quote]

Grace tells us that Akilah was the start of her professional journey, and that she came to One Acre Fund equipped with the right skills for the job, such as computing, hospitality, customer service, and leadership. She points out that it was particularly crucial that Akilah helped students apply for jobs before they had even graduated, polishing their application materials, CVs, and interview skills. This encouraged her to be proactive and persistent with her professional ambitions.

This work ethic is important for Grace because, in addition to her responsibilities at One Acre Fund, she is also pursuing her love of fashion on the side. When she isn’t at work, she’s looking for design inspiration — on the streets of Kigali, in shops downtown, on the Internet, and on television. But One Acre Fund will not be losing her anytime soon! She says that continuing to learn from her job and colleagues is an important step towards reaching her long-term goal.