Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC), a Rwandan NGO, was launched at the end of 2007 by 18 women living in Nyamirambo, Kigali. Together they created a project which aimed to address gender-based violence, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, NWC’s mission is to provide education and vocational training to disadvantaged women so that they can gain better opportunities for employment.
In pursuing this mission, NWC has 3 overall objectives:
- To strengthen the institutional and organizational capacity of NWC
- To promote and empower women through capacity development and employment
- To promote women and community-based tourism
To fulfill the mandate of these objectives, NWC offers free classes in literacy, English, basic computer skills, handicrafts and sewing, empowerment trainings on gender based violence and trainings on responsible community based tourism.
At the end of 2013 NWC launched the product line “Umutima,” which means “heart” in Kinyarwanda. With this project, NWC trains and employs women from the community to create a large variety of women’s accessories, children’s clothing, and home decor products. At the moment there are over 50 women employed by Umutima as seamstresses. Umutima and NWC have grown into a unique, self-sustaining model where the profits earned through Umutima are used to fund NWC initiatives, in addition to providing benefits and a fair wage to the seamstresses.
NWC is also sustained by income generated by the increasingly popular community walking tours of Nyamirambo. Adhering to the principles of Responsible Community-Based Tourism (CBT), this walking tour gives tourists a uniquely personal insight into everyday life, social culture and businesses. Also as a part of their CBT initiative, the Center offers basket weaving and traditional cooking workshops.
Finally, at the beginning of 2014 a small community library across the street from NWC was inaugurated, offering books in Kinyarwanda, English and French. The idea behind the library is to encourage reading among the youth in Rwanda and to promote the idea of “one child, one book” in a country where many children do not have the opportunity to read and discover the world through books.
Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC) was founded in 2007 with the financial support of a Slovenian NGO called the Peace Institute* and the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This partnership, which allowed NWC to develop and strengthen its community activities, ended in 2015. From 2009-2011, the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Rwanda was another important donor, funding one project for 2.5 years. Throughout the years NWC has received and continues to receive countless donations from individuals and local organisations (such as the AIC in Kigali). These have allowed NWC to grow and expand its outreach within the community.
Since 2015 NWC’s main donor has been A Tree for Rwanda, a non-profit association based in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded in June 2014, the association’s sole goal is to provide financial support to the NWC by organizing individual fundraising events with individuals, groups, and corporations. Through this fundraising, A Tree For Rwanda aims to keep the dreams of NWC’s women alive and to be able to support more women and their families, enable access to education, build capacities through practical skills training for vulnerable groups of women, enable access to books and introduce a reading culture to the local population (especially children and youth), raise awareness about women’s rights and gender equality at the local level, and empower the most vulnerable women.
Continued support from these organizations and individuals have been crucial to the fast growth of NWC. However, NWC has been careful to not become dependent on this external support, creating a circular model in which Umutima and the Center’s tourism offerings provide NWC with the funds to support their community initiatives.