Don’t despise your beginnings!
Aurore Hategekimana is a young woman who recently graduated from the University of Liège, in criminology law. During her studies, she set up a small business by the name of “Ushindi Maasai” which aimed to promote Maasai jewelry. Building from her experience, I am going to discuss the study-entrepreneurship duo.
Knowing how difficult it is to manage full time graduate school, I asked Aurore how she came up with the idea of starting this business project. This was her answer:
“First of all, the idea came to me during my first trip to Kenya, which was basically a family trip. Being a lover of African crafts, a tour of the markets was a must for me. What I saw there was so beautiful that I wanted to share it with others by posting on social media including Snapshat and Facebook. From there, many people started making orders. One thing was sure, it was the first time I had seen such jewelry, made in such a way, and I found it selfish not to share it with others. These jewels had to be known and not only in Africa. So, I decided to respond to the demand by telling myself: “why not“,
Already, the fact of going into a market and immediately recognizing that there is a potential on the European market whereas at the beginning, the trip was not at all a business mission shows how much Aurore is a leader of our time. When you consider transport and shipping costs and you are mindful of the environmental situation of our planet, it is these kinds of initiatives that characterize the businesswomen of tomorrow. Your trips can count for so much more than just relaxing.
Then I really wanted to know how she evolved step by step from the beginning and how the beginnings in entrepreneurship went, especially as a student. Aurore did not shy away from sharing her experience. For her, “entrepreneurship is necessarily taking a financial risk. There is obviously some work to be done in advance before one goes out there as an entrepreneur. Thus, I started to seriously think things through, did my research about the market, studied the competition and more. In terms of studies, motivation took over and I did not see the difficulties but rather the opportunity for a great adventure. When I started, I was pursuing a master’s degree in criminology, for which I had already completed a few credits. The fact that I had validated these credits brought opportunities into my schedule as it gave me time to invest elsewhere. The most important thing when you are a student entrepreneur is organization. I had a well-established schedule that split most of my time between revisions for my classes and work for Ushindi Massai ’.
One of the things that limits the youth these days, once they graduate, is the lack of experience. Very few companies offer real opportunities to people who have just completed their degrees right away. Often, if one has not built a network of professionals while studying, it is almost impossible to find a job. Aurore’s story shows us that by becoming an entrepreneur, she created the perfect way to demonstrate her business skills, financial management, team management, her ability to work with other cultures and many other skills that are not immediately obvious when you look at the CV of a graduate in criminology law.
As we continued our conversation, I also wanted to know what this experience had taught her. The following was her answer: ‘When I ventured into entrepreneurship, I discovered a passion for customer relations. There was a real pleasure in doing this work. This job has become a fun activity and not a business that has the sole purpose of making money.
The experience has given me a new source of income, but Ushindi Massai is not just that for me. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in a whole different area. ” At the end of our interview, Aurore also told me about new doors that opened through Ushindi Massai. In particular, she was able to collaborate with other young black women who were starting out like her. She had the opportunity to work with a hairdresser, a photographer and a writer. Together, these young entrepreneurs sought to grow individually while uplifting one another.
Today, Ushindi Massai is, according to Aurore, on hold for personal and professional reasons. Still, what came out of our conversation and what I found inspiring was the fact that despite everything it was a positive experience for her. Aurore told us that it had “enriched her a lot more internally than financially”. In fact, she concluded our exchange with a word of encouragement to all those who are still hesitant: ‘Dare and go for it, you can only win.’
By Joyeuse Musabyimana
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