While some teachers say they earn a meager salary, Elias Uwizeyimana, biology professor at GS Rutonde in Ngeruka Sector, Bugesera District, defied the odds by using loans from the Teachers’ Credit and Savings Cooperative. to start businesses from which he generates enormous income beyond his teaching work.
Uwizeyimana was recently given a motorbike for being an outstanding teacher who used teacher loans to grow.
He was awarded at the provincial level in the Eastern Province.
“In 2012, I acquired a cash advance loan of Rwf 600,000 and managed to set up a stationery business called“ Papeterie Umuryango Ltd ”. I opened this business in our region because there was only one stationery store, but there was a strong demand for this type of material from schools, offices and others, ”he said. -he declares.
When he opened a stationery shop, his salary as a teacher was Rwf21,000 per month for the A2 diploma.
“I started with a copier and a few stationery products. I started by renting the store for 25,000 Rwf per month. I was the first person to bring photocopiers to the area, so I had a market. I continued to expand the stationery using emergency loans and payday advances, ”he said.
In 2018, he spent part of the income from the stationery business and opened another business where he buys agricultural products and supplies them to different markets and schools.
He said he opened another paper mill in Kamabuye area and in 2020 he also started a beekeeping project.
“Using the income from the stationery business, I bought a piece of land where I am implementing the beekeeping project. I already supply honey to the market. On the same ground, I have also set up banana plantations and forest plantations, ”he said.
The 44-year-old biology professor, a father of three, said he bought a house with annexes in central Ruhuha and also started a brick production business.
“This house generates income because people rent me out and pay me monthly. I used to rent the house where the first stationery store opened, but later I bought it and it’s now my own property, ”he said.
All the businesses he owns, he said, generate between 600,000 and 800,000 Rwf each month, or between 7.2 and 9.6 million Rwf per year.
Currently, he estimates, his businesses and properties that he has created since 2012 are worth between 60 and 80 million Rwf.
“I have a vision to continue to grow my stationery business and other businesses. The company does not affect my work as a teacher. I continue to teach as my passion.
I have employed people who help me run these businesses while I am in school. During my vacation, I have time to think about improving my business, ”he said.
He said he has other projects he plans to submit to the co-op for funding.
“I want to tap into a school feeding program to get a deal. I am also considering the creation of a corn processing plant, ”he said.
Uwizeyimana advises other teachers to take advantage of the Teachers’ Credit and Savings Cooperative to generate additional income to meet the meager salary teachers receive.
“For example, beekeeping is something that can be easy for teachers to do. A liter of honey costs between 5,000 and 6,000 Rwf. Poultry is another viable business that you can start with few resources. Teachers can apply for loans from their cooperative because the interest rate is 11%, which is lower than other banks, ”he said.
What others say about him
Norbert Musangamfura, teacher at GS Rutonde, said he was inspired a lot by teacher Uwizeyimana.
“Hard work is a good inspiration. Taking advantage of bank loans and building viable small income-generating businesses is a good initiative that should inspire all teachers. It’s amazing and interesting that he manages to run a business and does his job as a teacher as well. At the mainstream level where he teaches biology, students do well on national exams, as we all see in school, ”he said.
Jean Marie Vianney Nsengimana, an employee of Uwizeyimana at the stationery, said he was unemployed before meeting the entrepreneur.
“I had studied accounting at school, but I looked for a job for two years. I was fortunate to be employed as a teacher. If all teachers diversify their sources of income, they can start businesses and employ many unemployed young people, ”he said.
He said he had managed to buy land and got married through work.
“I am meeting the needs of my family through this business. I was inspired by this teacher that it is possible to start with a small capital and start a small income-generating business, ”he noted.
Jacques Gashumba, in charge of education in the district of Bugesera urged teachers to change their mindset and diversify sources of income.
“Often the teachers say they earn a meager salary, but if they change their attitude they can realize that they have opportunities available in Umwalimu Sacco which can generate huge income. We have many teachers like Uwizeyimana who are now millionaires because they took advantage of the opportunities, ”he said.
Umwalimu SACCO has provided loans to its members amounting to more than Rwf260bn since 2008.
Uwizeyimana was awarded a motorbike for his exemplary use of loans given to teachers for development.