Do you know who made your kids’ school uniforms?

Xaverine is the answer you will most likely get in Nyamasheke, a remote village in west Rwanda.

Xaverine and her knitting machine

The mother of eight taught herself how to use the knitting machine four years ago in the hopes of bringing in additional income to her large family. She has now secured contracts with local schools to knit the blue and white striped sweaters for all the village kids.

Not only does Xaverine support her own family, she wants her business to help the community as well. She has already taken on one apprentice and is looking to expand her business by taking out a new loan and purchasing an additional knitting machine to train more people.

Xaverine's work bench and the blue and white school uniforms

Xaverine says: “I want us women to work together and build a better future for our families!”

She and her husband, who herds goats and grows maize, are currently saving up money to finish building their new home. The government advised them to move from their existing house as it is prone to landslides during the rainy season.

Xaverine's husband's maize and goat business

As we walk past Xaverine’s new house that has breath taking views of the land of the thousand hills that is Rwanda, she also tells me about her latest investment – a solar panel the size of an iPad mini on her roof. “This helps me work in the dark and get even more done!”

Back in the car, I can’t stop smiling as Xaverine’s story really moved me – a mum committed to the happiness of her children and a woman empowering others in their quest for independence!

The view of the thousand hills of Rwanda from Xaverine's house

About the author

Sandra Ool

Sandra is originally from a small island in Estonia but has made a home for herself in London. She received a BSc in Management and Strategy from Aston University and joined Ernst & Young as a management consultant after graduation. In her five and a half years at EY she has worked with numerous banks and insurance companies, large and small. She believes financial inclusion and access to financial services is key to fostering young entrepreneurs and building thriving communities. As part of her role at EY, Sandra had the privilege to work with a small entrepreneur in South Africa to help them growth their business in the summer of 2015. This terrific experience made it clear to her that she wants her success to have significance. Following this ethos, Sandra is excited to join the Kiva Fellows 29th Class to work with Urwego Opportunity Bank and Kepler Education in Kigali, Rwanda.