FAFIFRUITOBU Federation, Burundi
A Collaboration to benefit all
Gloriose is a 34 year old entrepreneur from Bubanza, a city located in northwest of Burundi. With her vibrant personality, short black hair and sparkling eyes, It is as if there is nothing this ambitious small framed woman can’t achieve. Her passion is to empower women in her community by inspiring them to work together.
Together we can do so much
Creating FAFIFRUITOBU federation with a cluster of cooperatives in Bubanza to produce fruits and juices and thus employing a total of 113 women is only one of Gloriose’s many achievements: “I realised that most women working in the fruit sector, had no notion of marketing or a structured way of doing business. So I regrouped them and encouraged them to form cooperatives.” To be able to achieve this, Gloriose used the help of SPARK to arrange a set of trainings for these ladies.
During their trainings, Burundian women learned about the importance of collaboration in achieving results, practiced new techniques of marketing and learned how to manage cooperatives. “Working in cooperatives gives these women a stronger sense of belonging and a better position in the market. The trainings helped them strengthen their business skills.”
The more we learn, the more we earn
To highlight the important role of collaboration, Gloriose also works as a facilitator between fruit cooperatives in Burundi and IPFB, an organisation formed to support agri-entrepreneurs in the fruit sector. In her role, she makes it possible for IPFB to bring in mentoring and technical support and assist cooperatives in increasing the quality of their products. “Now that we work together the production has increased significantly. Women are more knowledgeable and skilful and the combination of determination, knowledge and collaboration is working well in our advantage.”
Taking that extra step towards success
Gloriose’s latest project involved building fruit stands in Bubanza’s market, to allow the cooperatives to sell their products at a central location in town. “the idea was to have a fixed point to sell fruits and juices”, she explains as she quickly makes her way through the fruit market where the stands are covered with colorful fresh fruits in rows. She is wearing a colourful dress inspired by tropical leaves and the humid weather of Burundi and is carrying a phone bigger than her hand.
“With the support of SPARK and co-financing of the cooperatives themselves, four fruit stands were built and put in place”, She adds and continues: “Now the products are more visible to people in the area. It is very important to have a fixed location with good conditions because it attracts customers, and they start to learn your location in case they decide to go back to it.”
Gloriose’s initiative is a simple one but will make a noticeable difference in the business of all these women. “Before, they had to take home fruits which they could not sell on a day. But now, with the stands located in the shade, fruits are not placed on the ground and are protected against the sun, so unsold fruits can be stored on the stands overnight to be sold the next day.”
Nothing comes easy
Building these fruit stands was not easy for Gloriose and her team. Time and economy were not friends with this project. It was a lengthy process and the inflation, resulting from the economic crisis which hit the country after the political turmoil in 2015, made things more complicated.
To face these challenges, Gloriose worked to raise awareness and improve a sense of ownership among the members of the cooperatives. “I told the women: the project is yours, it belongs to no one else. Only you can contribute to its success.” She explains, “without their help this would have never been possible.”
Behind these words of courage and motivation is a strong inspired woman who cares about her community and wants to make a change. “I love what I do. I love working with women because they have a lot of problems at home, a lot to manage. When they work together they can grow and create more opportunities, more jobs. It makes me proud to help change the lives of women in Burundi.”