Language version


How A Local Designer Exploits Opportunities Amidst #COVID-19 Crisis




Many small businesses have shut down and thousands have lost jobs as a result of an economic downturn caused by the ongoing #COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation is dire as the economy undergoes unbearable hits from the lockdown imposed by government to contain the spread of Coronavirus.

But not everyone is willing to get hit while on their knees.

Some businesses are coping up, thinking, innovating and reaching out to their customers to stay afloat in these hard times.

Charlotte Shema, a Rwandan fashion designer, is busy. She works day and night most of the days to meet the growing demand for her items.

Shema, and her seven-staff crew, runs Touch of Rwanda Fashion Designs Ltd with two warehouses in Kigali City.

“I am now producing some items such as community face masks, bathrobes, kitchen apron, gloves and other items that people need while we all are staying home,” she says.

Demand can surge in some days and what Shema does is to reach out other tailors to beef up the capacity. “Demand varies day by day, but at least we are producing 200 masks per day and I have seven people around Kigali helping us sew these products.”

Shema’s robes can fetch up to rwf45,000 per piece and they are on high demand.

On Saturday, April 18, the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority approved 26 companies to manufacture protective gears in the country. The Ministry of Health has ordered that beginning Monday April 20, people should start wearing masks while at home and when they leave their homes.

Shema’s Touch of Rwanda Fashion Designs Ltd is in the process of applying for the approval, although her business line encompasses many items and a facial mask is just one item of the many.

Shema is concentrating on small scale supply; targeting clients who need one or two items.

“I don’t think that people who want one or two masks will go find those companies selected above,” she says.

Charlotte Shema says her masks are customised handcrafted pieces for small scale supplies at Rwf3000 per piece.

Her masks are safe and reusable.

Technology plays big role 

Shema is harnessing the internet via social media accounts to reach out to potential clients.

“People are reaching us out through Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp,” she says. “They pay by MoMo, and we use moto for delivery.”

Meanwhile, as demand increases, Shem seems to have fortunately begun stocking raw materials ahead of time before the lockdown. “I was used to buying materials and stocking …I have some in my stock already.”

A set of plates-mate goes for Rwf50,000

Shema’s strategy isn’t remedy for everyone in her industry, though. Some fashion houses and regulator tailor shops are completely shut down.

“My tailors live far from the workshop. And we are in a lockdown. No buses or motos moving,” says Karen Uwera who runs Karssh Collections.

“Even if I wanted to produce anything it would be very difficult…The option of working from home was not possible because our workshop is far from where the tailors live and it’s also not possible to take machines at home,” she says.

“I had pending orders from clients that are on hold now, hoping once the lockdown is lifted, we will resume,” she says.

As for Sheme, this is a fight and, “I am thinking of what to do.”

If you would like to support her, she can be reached via:


WhatsApp/Tel: +250 788 619 424




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Flights From Dubai To Nairobi Resume



Kenya government has lifted a ban on flights from Dubai entering its territory ending a weeks-long dispute with the United Arab Emirates.

The East African nation had imposed a ban on all inbound and transit passenger flights from the Middle East nation two weeks ago. The ban was lifted Monday midnight, offering a major relief to hundreds of travellers between the two destinations.

The ban did not however affect cargo flights that are normally flown by carriers such as Kenya Airways (KQ) and Emirates airline from UEA into Kenya.

“Kenya shall do a NOTAM lifting the suspension of flights to and from UAE from midnight tonight (Monday),’’ said Gilbert Kibe Director-General Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

The ban came a few days after UAE extended the Kenya flight ban after it established that travellers from Nairobi were testing positive for Covid-19 after arrival in the Middle East nation, despite carrying negative test results.

Kibe said the scheme involved a racket of private medical testing centres that colluded with travellers to issue fake Covid-19 PCR results to aid their travel.

The Ministry of Health has however launched investigations into the matter with a view to bringing to book health officials who were involved in the shoddy deal that has now coasted Kenya millions of shillings in lost passenger revenues.

Continue Reading


Bralirwa Shares Trading Badly On Rwanda Stock Exchange



Since the just concluded festive season, Rwanda’s largest brewer has not been in good books with its clients as retailers repeatedly complain of lack of some products and  sometimes rationing of beers.

“It is very hard to get grand Primus beers. Every time I send someone to get them from the depot we are told that distributors  haven’t supplied,” says Christine Nyiramariza a bar owner in Gatsibo district.

Trending on twitter is a very confusing situation of Amstel beer filled in Mutzig bottles.

According to Rwanda Stock Exchange, as of Friday, the value of Bralirwa share had dropped to Rwf124.

Continue Reading


Equity Bank Gets £37m From British Agency To Lend SMEs



UK’s Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford MP (pictured above) said his government was extending a total of £37 million to Equity Bank Kenya for onward lending to small businesses.

“Our economic partnership is delivering impressive results, and we have some ambitious, exciting plans for the future. Plans that will deliver for Kenya, and for the UK, long into our shared future,” she said.

This money is being channeled through UK’s development finance institution British International Investment (BII) – formerly known as CDC Group. BII is a key part of the UK government’s wider plans to mobilise up to £8 billion a year of public and private sector investment in international projects by 2025.

This will include BII partnering with capital markets and sovereign wealth funds to scale up financing and help the private sector move in.

BII will prioritise sustainable infrastructure investment to provide clean, honest and reliable financing and avoid low and middle-income countries being left with bad and unsustainable debt.

Ford also stated that the UK will increase its support for green manufacturing in Kenya by providing an additional £400,000 to help Kenya build a green manufacturing industry, increasing its support to the Ministry of Trade and the wider Kenyan manufacturing sector in this area.

Green manufacturing was highlighted by President Kenyatta at COP26 as a key opportunity for Kenya to create new green jobs.

The funding through the UK’s Manufacturing Africa programme will provide expert analysis and advice on how government policy and the organised private sector can help build this industry and create new green jobs for Kenyans.

Kenya is already the third biggest portfolio for BII, with Sh42 billion investments across 83 companies. Those companies support 36,350 jobs and pay Sh2.6 billion in taxes.

“This is how we will deliver world-class projects, characterised by high standards and outstanding expertise, without forcing huge new debts onto countries such as Kenya,” she said.

Continue Reading