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Francine runs a shop, she secured using a capital earned after collecting her first sales of sweetpotato vines in May 2017.

Empowering women in Rwanda through Orange-fleshed sweetpotato farming

By Donata Kiiza

As a housewife, Francine was always dissatisfied with her worth. She always dreamed of doing more than she was doing at home and becoming an active member of her community.  

“I felt like I was not useful in my marriage. I wanted to be more productive with my life,” she explained.

In December 2016, Francine was approached with an opportunity to be a decentralized vine multiplier of orange-fleshed sweetpotato varieties. This was very new to her and though she was not sure about this venture, she had confidence because she was among the few chosen in her area (Rwamagana District), and she decided to take on this business adventure.

Francine in her sweetpotato field in Rwamagana where she operates as a decentralized vine multiplier (DVM).

Francine had to change her farming practices from the normal intercropping, she had to isolate the sweetpotato field from any other crops and this led her to lease another field for trials. This was something she had no capacity to do. However, her husband as always, was there to help with rental fees for the first trial season.

 “From the beginning, my husband did not understand how one can earn from selling sweetpotato vines. It sounded like a joke to him. However, I think because he wanted me to have something to do, he didn’t discourage me despite of the little faith he had in this activity,’’ says Francine.

All my friends and community members who heard about what I was going to venture into, were laughing about it. At one point during the initial preparations of the land, it was difficult to get a field good enough for planting and this discouraged me too,” she recalled.

Support  International Potato Center (CIP) and Young Women Christian Association (YWCA)  is what keep Francine motivated. The two organizations teamed up to support Francine through what was a life-changing journey and encouraged her to keep pushing.  

The Breakthrough

Three years later, Francine can only dream bigger and achieve more. 

“When I made my first sale in 2017 I knew I had made the right decision of becoming a DVM and more than ever I was motivated to worker harder,” said Francine. 

Francine working on her sweetpotato filed with other casual labors.


Francine can now enjoy the fruits of her hard work, unlike before,  she can now afford to buy her children clothes and contribute during social gatherings, assists her husband by contributing financially towards household expenses and covers her own business expenditures of rent and labor.

 “I did not know that when you’re a wife, contributing to the wellbeing of your family can earn more respect from all your family members,” said Francine. 

Francine seated in her kiosk in Nyabugogo business center. She secured starting capital after making her first sell of vines during the army week in 2017.

Francine who now owns a beverage shop in Nyabugogo business center, says she is looking forward to achieving more from her job as a DVM in few years to come.

About Donata Kiiza

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