USAID Supported Gahaya Links Peace Baskets Continue to Reap Benefits from ECA Trade Hub Support

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
USAID Press Office
202-712-4320

Janet Nkubana, Rwandan entrepreneur and co-founder of Gahaya Links, Ltd Weaving Company, a USAID recipient, will make an in-store appearance at Macy's Metro Center on Friday, December 4th at 5:30pm. Janet will demonstrate weaving techniques and discuss her compelling story.

Immediately after the Rwandan genocide, women made up over 70 percent of the country's population. Facing an uncertain future, these women needed to find a way of making money to help their families survive. Many women turned to making traditional hand-woven baskets of papyrus and sisal to sell in local markets. Janet Nkubana and her sister Joy Ndunguste were also survivors of the genocide and came from a family that practiced traditional basket weaving. In 2004 they formed Gahaya Links Ltd. and embarked on transforming these traditional colorful baskets into high-end home decor with a unique Rwandan flair.

The fortunes of many of these women weavers changed when an East and Central African (ECA) Trade Hub delegation, funded through USAID East Africa, visited a trade show in Kigali and met Janet Nkubana. Representatives from the Hub realized the company's potential. They provided technical assistance in product design, marketing and pricing to help Janet prepare her baskets for international trade shows. The ECA Trade Hub then sponsored her trip to New York to take part in a major marketing event, the Sources Show. There, buyers from Macy's spotted her product line and offered her a deal worth US$150,000 to supply baskets for their New York store and to sell online. Path to Peace baskets are being sold at: http://www1.macys.com/campaign/rwanda/index.jsp.

With USAID support and technical expertise, Gahaya Links continues to grow. Beginning with only 27 women, Gahaya Links has expanded and is now a profitable enterprise that works with over 3000 weavers across Rwanda. In 2007, the company produced 35,000 baskets with annual sales of $300,000. Its baskets and other products have been featured in U.S. national magazines and new deals are in the works with major national retailers.

This success story is an example of how specific and targeted interventions can have positive and far-reaching results. Indeed, it has already made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of Rwandan women, and placed the spotlight on the unique capabilities of that country. Additionally, the success of this one company has spurred the Rwandan Government into action. Upon returning from the Peace Baskets Macy's launch in New York, President Kagame ordered his Ministers to do every-thing in its power to assist the company and clear any unnecessary hurdles to exporting to the U.S. under AGOA.

Last updated: February 28, 2012

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