By Donata Kiiza
As the saying goes, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” A time came when Vestine Kambibi could not keep looking down on herself and she had to take action.
Kambibi, a mother of two children is one of the many women who used to think without education, all they can do is be a housewife. Always lacking self-confidence, Kambibi, never at one point saw herself able to do more than being a stay home mother.
Although deep down in her heart, she was not happy about the life she was living. Having to be dependent on her husband for every single need of the family as well as for her personal needs, Kambibi had some hope of going into business.
One day, while in an agricultural meeting at the sector, one of CIP’s successful DVMs, Drocella Yankulije from Muhanga District gave a testimony of how being an sweetpotato vine multiplier changed her life.
Since then, Kambibi got interested to know more about this lady, to know what magic was behind her success and to evaluate whether she could also replicate such success following the same pathway (growing sweetpotato vines and roots).
“After I contacted Drocella, she gave me an appointment to find her at her home in Shyogwe, Muhanga District. However, after visiting her, I felt so challenged. This was an elderly widow who has been able to take her children to university, living in a decent house, acquired land and had enough food, all from being a vine multiplier. From that day, I decided, I must do the same work and become successful just like her.” Kambibi confesses.
A year after, at the beginning of 2017, the 33-year old was ready to take on the work as a vine multiplier. On just 0.25 hectares in Gitega cell, Cyarubariro village in Karongi district, Kambibi started OFSP vine multiplication. From this small land, she has been able to harvest and sell vines three times and has so far earned about 1,350,000 Rwf, around 1,560 USD. Life started to have some meaning according to the young mother. In just a year of doing this work, Kambibi started fulfilling her dreams to do business by opening a charcoal depot in Muhanga where her family stays. She also bought a cow from which she says she gets school fees and milk for her children.
As if this is not enough, Kambibi also acquired 0.40 hectares in Gisiza cell, Gitwa village in Karongi district where she does root production. She now has about 0.65 hectares on which she operates her sweetpotato related business work.
“My only weakness was that I couldn’t see a woman doing something and be successful. I would look down on myself but today, all that is gone,” added Kambibi.
She also said she has entered co-operatives in her area that help her save money and earn interest. This, she explained enables her to run her family’s needs smoothly as well as her personal needs.
Today, she no longer asks for any financial help from her husband. She is a self-reliant woman. With a smile, she confessed how she feels proud of herself since she is valuable not only to her family but also in the surrounding community. Over 10 neighbors have acquired OFSP planting materials from Kambibi and she has educated them on how these varieties of sweetpotato are planted. In addition, she now has confidence in herself as a woman because she sees the ability within her to do something successfully.
The rising entrepreneur concludes saying, she plans to keep buying more land so that in the future, she can multiply vines and produce OFSP roots on a large scale. She extends her appreciation to USAID, CIP and RAB for giving women like her, opportunities to reposition the fate of their lives.