Elysee Gatarahiya is the owner of Norelga Macadamia company, a company which he originally founded in 2005. His business focuses of processing macadamia nuts and ground nuts; the nuts are cracked from their husks, before being processed and packaged into ready to eat products. After recognizing the nutritional benefits as well as economic importance of macadamia nuts, Elysee decided to venture into entrepreneurship and start this business. When he began Elysee didn’t have much funding and was anxious about taking out a bank loan because he lacked enough collateral. So despite its great potential, Norelga Macadamia was obliged start small with only limited capital, which in turn meant he could only produce for a small market.
Elysee participated in a market training event which SPARK organised in Rwanda, and it was here that SPARK saw the potential of his unique business and saw its potential for growth. All Elysee needed was capital and so SPARK referred him to Ignite Fund, a partner of SPARK which works in fragile states supporting entrepreneurs with sound business plans, yet who lack access to finance. The Ignite Fund invested in Elysee’s business; he was able to buy new machinery which processed the nuts at a faster and more efficient rate without damaging the nut kernel, thus increasing the profitability of his business.
Elysee continued pushing his business forward by awareness raising in his community about the important nutritional benefits of Macadamia nuts as well as trying to find new markets in different regions of Rwanda. Elysee was able to secure a contract with Rwanda’s only airline company who began purchasing 75% of Norelga Macadamia’s total production. Now the company is beginning to explore export possibilities to regional neighbours Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi, and hope in the future to break into markets further afield in Africa and Europe.
What is your personal ambition?
My dream is to expand my business so that it is well established enough to benefit not just my family, but my whole community. I aim to develop my business so that it is capable of supplying international markets. In this was Norelga Macadamia would positively impact the lives of the farmers who grow our macadamia nuts and the other employees who process and package our product. I also hope to make a significant contribution to Rwanda’s economy and help promote the capacity of Rwanda’s agriculture sector.
What impact do you see your business making?
My business has great potential; it remains the only business to process Macadamia nuts in Rwanda and as a result we have the biggest market share. Having Rwandair as our customers is really great. Their elite status is beneficial to Norelga Macadamia because it will raise the status of our brand and help us to win more contracts with other big companies. Rwanda’s economy is also improving, meaning people have more money to regularly buy snacks like my macadamia.
How do you see the future of your business?
Norelga Macadamia has created jobs for many local people. Most of the employees have families and this business helps them provide for their families, contributing more widely to poverty alleviation. I believe that as my business grows and employment opportunities increase, I will be able to continue employing more people, improving the lives of many. Finally, because Macadamia nuts have such positive health benefits, by facilitating their consumption I will indirectly contribute to the well-being of many Rwandese people.