Cow Horns Kigali Social Enterprise crafting jewellery and handicrafts to support street children.
“In 2009 I was still in High school and at only the age of 14 years, I decided to leave home in search of a better life. My family and I were living in abject poverty in the outskirts of Kigali and I quite frankly could not take the life anymore. I came to Kigali in search of a better life” starts her story Jean Marie, founder of Cow Horns Kigali Social Enterprise.
She lived on the streets begging for food and sleeping in street corners. Living a hopeless life in the mercies of others. It was a very tough life where she did not know where her next meal would come from and she was always scared for her own safety.
Jean Marie met a Japanese lady who trained her on how to make necklaces, rings, and earrings from cow horn. She trained her for a period of 3 months and shortly after that Jean Marie decided to return home to continue with her studies. Completed Primary school in Bugesera where her parents lived and later came to Kigali to complete her high School.
“It was while I was in Kigali that I happened to be walking and passed by a place that was used to dump cow horns. I immediately said to myself “Look at that! I actually know what I can do with all those cow horns. They are useless to many who look upon them but I could transform them into beautiful jewellery!”
Jean Marie did not waste any time. Immediately she had requested her former high school to lease her some space in one of the classrooms that was no longer being used and turned it into a workshop. Looking back to the cow horn dump site and they offered to give her a sack of cow horns for free.
“Within a month I had made USD 100 from the jewellery I was making. Everything that I made was being sold immediately. People loved the items and I knew that I had found a business that I could seriously pursue to make a living. I started thinking of people whom I could employ to help me grow the business.”
She remembered 2 street children with whom they had been trained together by the Japanese lady. She looked for them and they joined her business. As the business continued to grow Jean Marie was remembering the difficult life that she endured while in the streets and she was moved to reach out to street children. She invited 3 of them that she had seen in the neighbourhood and started to train them for free. The business continued to grow in leaps and bounds and Jean Marie decided to take them on as her full-time employees. Today the team is made up almost entirely of former street children, one of whom is deaf and dumb. They earn a stable salary, they can buy good healthy food, have decent shelter and clothing.
“This is my joy and it motivates me to work harder.My vision is to reach out to as many street children as possible. This year, in October, I hope to reach out to 4 other street children to train them on this skill and how they can use it to earn a living.”