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  • Writer's pictureLouise

UPDATE: Teenage Mothers in Rwanda By Iriza Ntako Heritage

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

The “Iriza Ntako Heritage” project is initiated by Souzane Murekatete in Rwanda, to give women living in poverty a chance to gain their independence. In 2016, Souzane formed an NGO to help struggling women to learn some weaving techniques so that they can work and earn a living for their families. Recently, she opened a second department focussing on teen mums as they are one of the most vulnerable groups in Rwanda. 

Last month, Rilo Connect started a campaign to help Souzane grow the organisation. Two forms of support have been given: a significant international order of 120 pieces to kickstart the business and a raised amount of $3000,- to invest in the training of teenage mothers. 

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in Rwanda for the last 2 months, the women were not able to work. On the 4th of May, the local government has allowed factories to open at half capacity again, so the women are back to work and the work on orders has started.  

This is the story, told by Souzane, of one of her current weavers:

Esperance Mukabaranga started weaving for us in 2007, she is now 47 years old. She has four children; two sons and two daughters. Her three children are done with high school levels and the youngest is now in senior two. 

She was able to pay school fees for her children during high school, but now it is difficult to manage their children at university level. Her oldest son is jobless but he is passionate about football. Her second born is a tailor. While her third born is jobless also. 

It is not easy to help her family even with the basic needs because, in our high season, we make sales but in low season there is no market for our products. Before she joined the weaving project, she was jobless and the situation was worse than today because it was not easy to provide lunch for her family. She has a husband but he is living somewhere else and she is not getting support from him. She is incredibly thankful for this order because now she has an income and is learning new weaving techniques to stand out from the competition. 

Most of the teen mums who are joining the weaving training, live in Eastern Province while the trainer lives in Kigali. This is why the training for them has not started yet. They are still waiting for the government permission to move from one province to another province again. 

Both the order and the funding have given Souzane, the weavers, and the teen mums a chance to grow the business, hire trainers to learn more techniques, invest in more materials and allow more teen mums to join the weaving training program. 

A massive thank you for your support from the weaving women in Rwanda! 

We are still collecting orders to help Iriza Ntako Heritage grow their business. If you are interested in purchasing one of her beautiful baskets, please reach out to

Get to know Souzane and her story:

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