Small scale cross-border women traders from Rubavu district have received smart phones as a part of Connect Rwanda initiative, a development they say will change their lives.
Hundreds of women in Rubavu depend on informal trade between Rwanda and DR Congo dealing in different marchandise.
The 400 smartphones were donated by the Minitry of Trade and Industry in line with ‘Connect Rwanda’ program that aims at deepening the penetration of smartphones to the most vulnerable in the country.
Thedosie Bwizwinayo, 26, a mother of two who is one of the beneficiaries said this was a gamechanger for her.
Bwizwinayo, who sells vegetables in across the border in DR Congo, said that on many instances, her client ask for photos of the vegetables before she makes the delivery, something she was not able to do.
“Sometimes my clients ask me to send photos of my goods before I deliver. I could even face losses due to the lack of a smart phone like this. I’m able now to use WhatsApp and intaract face to face with my clients,” says Bwizwinayo, a resident in Busasamana sector.
“I need to know more about technology and stay updated, be able to get and send goods using this smartphone. It is really going to change my life'” she added.
Nelson Dusenge, 32, father of five children picked the phone on behalf of his wife.
He says he and his wife sell onions and other vegetables in DR Congo’s Kibumba town. He says the business has been not running smoothly because of lack of proper communication.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Beata Habyarimana, urged the group to maximise the acquired smart phones, which she said will benefit their families and the country at large.
“Small-scale traders mean a lot to the economy. Use these smart phones though your business, sharing information amongst you but most importantly learn how to save using these phones and transact digitally,” she added.
She urged them to use the smartphones which she said will help them recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged the country and the world for over two years.
“Do not sell them, use them in your business for development. A development for a woman is a development for their family and for the country.”
The 400 smarts phones were gifted to Rubavu Small Scale women Traders, an initiative supported by the World Bank.
So far, 25,000 smartphones have been delivered through different partners working with MTN Rwanda for the Connect Rwanda Initiative.
A free sim card and internet for three months also is provided as part of the package.