A loan of $1,000 helped 2 bags of corn, 4 bags of cassava flour, 12 pieces of African cloth, 62 public phone cards, etc.

Kahambu's story

M. Kahambu is an entrepreneur who makes a local beverage known as “Rutuku” and is an excellent solidarity group client. A recipient of previous Hekima IMF loans, she is 66, married and the mother of 11 children, seven of whom have their own homes. The four others are students. Mrs. Kahambu lives in the busy neighborhood of Birere-Kahembe, a shantytown in Goma. Her husband is a teacher at the Kajiga/Karisimbi primary school.

Mrs. Kahambu began her small business using her own funds. She did it on a very small scale, borrowing what was required to make the local drink Rutuku (corn, flour, charcoal, etc.) from her friends and acquaintances, whom she paid after production as she had no capital up front. It was a way of introducing her to taking care of her own needs. In brief, Rutuku is an alcoholic beverage, about 47% proof, brewed from a mixture of fermented cassava flour, corn, sorghum, etc. that is heated to more than 180C (356F) in a vessel connected to a discharge chimney (made using local technology). The droplets resulting from the evaporation process are collected in a bowl and cooled so the result tastes like a liqueur. Given the family expenses, her husband’s bonus or salary from the DRC government is insufficient to make ends meet each month, so Mrs. Kahambu has developed other businesses, including walking around selling women’s clothes and traditional African cloth (pagnes). This helps her meet the household expenses. More specifically, the small profit made from producing Rutuku has enabled her to save enough money to buy a sewing machine and establish a small clothing business. In addition, she works with her son Jacques. They have a public phone kiosk and sell cell phone cards (Vodacom, MTN Supercell, Zain, CCT, etc.). It was after someone told her about the Hekima IMF that she obtained her first loan.

With this Hekima IMF loan, Mrs. Kahambu wants to increase her revenues by buying, among other things, two bags of corn, four bags of cassava flour, 12 pieces of African cloth, and 62 public phone cards. Mrs. Kahambu explains that the main challenge of her business of producing the local beverage Rutuku is selling on credit to other small retailers who themselves sell it by the bottle or the glass. Moreover, sometimes when the mixture of ingredients is not properly dissolved, the resulting beverage is not appreciated by consumers and customers are reluctant to buy it. Mrs. Kahambu is very optimistic about the future and wants to diversify her business by also selling Primus beer and Fanta. As she still rents her home, she would like to buy her own parcel of land and build a house on it so she can run a stable business. She also wants to see all her sons married.

Mrs. Kahambu thanks the Hekima IMF for the loans she has received without any material guarantee because thanks to these loans, she is able to meet the needs of her children.

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Translated from French by Kiva volunteer Sarah Llewellyn

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