Honorine Dukuzumuremyi is a Foundation student who started at Akilah in January 2015. One month in, however, and she’s already well on her way towards her diploma in Entrepreneurship. Honorine has a busy business selling mobile airtime to students and staff on campus. She tells Akilah how she identified a need, saw an opportunity, and put her ideas into action.
“One day I had an urgent call for an appointment for a job. They called me when I was in class. At break time we have ten minutes — that’s not enough time to go outside to the nearby hospital [down the road from the Akilah campus is the Kibagabaga Hospital and shops nearby sell airtime], get airtime, talk to them, and come back and continue my studies.”
Following this, Honorine began hearing similar stories from her classmates who didn’t have time to leave campus if they had to make a quick call between schoolwork. Noticing a trend and an underserved market niche, Honorine made a point to start asking students and staff how they acquired airtime and discovered that most people have the same challenge.
“Instructors and administrators used to send out Mutoni [Grace Mutoni is Campus Support Staff] to search for them, and it affected her responsibilities on campus because she had to spend a lot of time outside. And remember, there are a lot of people in administration — it’s hard to serve all of them. So I came up with the idea to help them have the service brought to them.”
“So I came up with the idea to help them have the service brought to them.”
To do her research, Honorine went to a branch of mobile-service provider MTN in Kigali’s Kimironko neighborhood. “I went there and asked them if someone wants to start selling airtime cards, how she can start, what are the requirements, and asked for all the information.” After considering the startup costs, Honorine decided to give her business idea a shot.
These days, Honorine sells anywhere from 5,000–20,000 RWF (roughly $7.25-$29 USD) in mobile airtime everyday. For students, who usually need to purchase smaller amounts, she charges airtime to her own mobile phone and then transfers 50, 100, 200 RWF ($0.07, $0.14, $0.29 USD) directly onto her clients’ phones. Staff tend to want to buy larger amounts and she sells them scratch-off airtime cards for anywhere from 500–5,000 RWF ($0.72-$7.25 USD) each.
Honorine makes 200 RWF ($0.14 USD) in profit for every 5,000 RWF ($7.25 USD) in airtime she sells. But she says this project isn’t about the money.
“From this business I want more skills and experience because my major is entrepreneurship. This small business I’m doing now gives me a bigger picture of how businesses I will do in the future will look and how I handle the challenges I need to meet.”
“It’s not only about me; I will focus on my community.”
Her dream is to have her own stationary business where she produces and sells supplies. She tells Akilah that she hopes it is “big, profitable, and can help me solve problems in my community. It’s not only about me; I will focus on my community.”
Indeed, Honorine’s business ambitions are motivated by a project which she says is the “foundation” behind everything else — after graduating from secondary school, she started a nursery in her village which serves 52 children ages two-six. She’s pretty incredible, wouldn’t you say? But that story we’ll save for next time. Stay tuned to read more about Honorine’s work with children and the inspiring students of Akilah by keeping our blog and Medium page on your reading list!