Meet Akayezu Florence - A Village Enterprise Success Story

From barely surviving to a flourishing entrepreneur, meet Village Enterprise Graduate, Akayezu Florence.

Akayezu Florence was once a single mother of three living in extreme poverty. Her job in agriculture didn’t pay enough to provide her family with basic needs. She was food insecure, stressed, and looking for a better life for herself and her children.

In 2021, Akayezu was introduced to our recommended nonprofit Village Enterprise and then selected to participate in its Graduation Program designed to teach entrepreneurship. One year later, equipped with her new training and a $180 grant, Akayezu co-founded a business with two other women from her village who had also completed the Graduation Program.

Today, Akayezu and her partners, Alphontine and Clementine, are the owners of a successful small agricultural business. With the help of Village Enterprise’s Graduation Program, these women and their families have escaped the poverty trap and found creative ways to provide for their families and enrich their community.

They farm sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, and peas. They raise rabbits, primarily for dietary consumption, and sell the manure as fertilizer. They provide the local homes and markets of their community with high-quality, easily-accessible agricultural products and gladly share their wealth of agricultural knowledge with neighbors and clients.

Thanks to the profits generated by her enterprise, Akayezu has been able to give her children a better life. She can now afford to feed them a balanced, protein-rich diet, with meat no longer reserved just for special occasions. She can afford to send them to school, with enough money for the school meal program and all necessary supplies. Akayezu and her family are no longer merely surviving. They are thriving.

When our team visited Akayezu’s village earlier this year, she and her business partners were gracious enough to share their inspiring story and exciting plans for the future with us. Florence is currently enrolled in a sewing course, adding another service to their community and additional revenue to their business. Now, we are delighted to share their story with you and highlight the profound, real-world impact nonprofits like Village Enterprise make every day.

More about Village Enterprise

Village Enterprise equips vulnerable women, refugees, and youth living in extreme poverty in rural Africa with resources to start sustainable businesses. Village Enterprise’s Poverty Graduation Program includes: entrepreneurship training, a cash grant, business mentoring, and a savings group. There is strong evidence that this leads to a significant and persistent increase in income.

The problem: poverty traps

Many of the world’s very poorest people are caught in a cycle of poverty. They face multiple barriers to improving their standard of living, including a lack of access to capital for productive investments, poor information about managing assets, and the inability to make risky but potentially productive investments due absence of a safety net or savings buffer.

The solution: supported entrepreneurship

Village Enterprise addresses the fact that poverty is multifaceted by providing a multifaceted program to support new entrepreneurs. They employ a group-based approach that brings together diverse skill sets, spreads risk, builds social capital, and produces cost efficiencies. Because entrepreneurship can be risky and take time to pay off, the program offers grants, not loans, to allow vulnerable people to immediately improve their standard of living.

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