Salha Kaitesi, founder of not-for-profit organisation ‘Beauty of Rwanda’ shares her story of self-employment with Local Women Local Enterprise members.
“I didn’t know how to start a business, I was clueless, all I had was passion! I knew I had to do it!”
We were delighted to be joined by Founder of Beauty of Rwanda, Salha Kaitesi, for our first Be Inspired session of 2017! Salha generously shared her personal and business story. She explained she is originally from Rwanda but has lived in the UK for most of her life. Having a 10 year old son, Salha runs her business around the school run, which is one of the many reasons why self-employment works for her.
What is Beauty for Rwanda?
Beauty of Rwanda is a not-for-profit jewellery and home décor organisation founded on the principle of economic empowerment to women of Rwanda, so her values are very close to those of The Millin Charity and our Local Women Local Enterprise Programme. All products are produced by women living in Rwanda, which Salha then sells in the UK and online worldwide to generate an income for the women of Rwanda.
Why did Salha set up business?
Salha explained that the idea came to her following a family visit to Rwanda where she began speaking with women who were struggling to put food on the table, and found that they were making beautiful handcrafted baskets and jewellery items but couldn’t find anyone to buy them. After returning to the UK, Salha found that she couldn’t stop thinking about these women, and knew she had to do something about it.
Salha decided the next time she went back to Rwanda she would arrange to bring back a range of handmade products to share with family and friends.
“Everybody loved them! People kept ringing me and asking for more!” And that was the start of Beauty of Rwanda. Salha registered as self-employed, began raising the businesses profile whenever she could and set up an online sales page.
“As soon as I dropped my son off at school, I would be straight on the laptop getting the word out there!”
Salha now operates as a social enterprise and has a board of directors. She has 59 women working for the business in Rwanda. She now wants to expand her business to recruit women from other towns and provinces. “Every town differs so you’ll find women in other areas have a completely unique style.”
Our ‘Be Inspired’ Session
A group of 11 women attended to hear Salha’s story and were all very moved by Salha’s passion and determination, as Salha explained that running a business isn’t always easy, as she shared her pro’s and cons of self employment with the group
The group had lots of questions for Salha, particularly about her experiences with importing and selling goods in the UK, networking, making contacts and branding. As Salha had been through this process herself, she was able to share her experiences with the group, offering guidance and recommendations.
Sessions of this nature are clearly invaluable, as it’s a perfect opportunity for women who are considering self-employment or already on their way to meet with other women who have already done it, hear real life stories and get real answers.
The group were very pleased to have had the opportunity to attend and to meet someone in a similar position;
“I think these sessions are amazing as they give us insight into real life experiences. They allow us to understand things that can come when running a business!”
“Hearing Salha’s pros and cons for self-employment was a real eye opener.”
Salha’s Top 5 Tips
- Never miss an opportunity to collect feedback
- Don’t create a website before you’re ready. If you’re going to have one, it has to be brilliant.
- Always wear your product & carry a business card – you never know who you’ll meet
- Make a lot of noise – make sure everyone knows what you are doing.
- Enjoy what you do!
More Be Inspired Sessions
We will be continuing to run more Be Inspired Sessions and are pleased to announce that our we will next be joined by Shehla Rashid who runs her own Asian Dress Making Business, Noor Couture. Shehla will be running her Session from our venue at the Beacon in February.