By Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun, Okla.
Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City.
It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma.
One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.
“After working eight years with a bank as an IT analyst and project manager, I moved back to Rwanda, my homeland,” Nduhungirehe said. “While looking for a car in Kigali City I realized there was no central place to go to find what was available.”
Instead, she went from person to person asking if anyone knew of a vehicle for sale. It was then she knew she had to start a business where goods and services could be linked to people with needs.
“I realized there was not a central place for buyers and sellers to meet,” Nduhungirehe said. One year later she and a partner formed Tangaza.
Nduhungirehe founded Tangaza in 2012 and it prints newspaper ads and manages a website of classified advertisements for Rwanda.
“I hope to be the first and only classified advertisement agency in Rwanda and Burundi and then expand into other African countries,” she said.
Tangaza means “advertise” in Kinyarwandan and it is the premise of Nduhungirehe’s company.
“The idea is to reach not only people with items to sell, but anybody who has anything to announce. This way, we reach more people and gain the interest of companies who want to advertise,” Nduhungirehe said.
She added the Peace Through Business program has been very beneficial to her from meeting new people, to being under the guidance of a mentor, to actually seeing what goes into printing an ad.
“I am going into the newspaper business and I have never seen a printing press before,” Nduhungirehe said before touring The Edmond Sun’s printing department Friday.
The program has already saved her money when starting up her business.
“My mentor told me I could save by not purchasing seven new computers now,” Nduhungirehe said. “I also learned a lot by talking to people who have a lot of experience to share with me.”
With only two employees at this time, she said she plans to expand to four, then seven employees in the future.
“Through being part of the Peace Through Business program I have been able to meet great people I would not have known otherwise,” Nduhungirehe said. “When I return, I will be able to contact these people if I need help. Just knowing I can call or email them makes me feel I can’t be lost in my business.”
The 2014 Peace Through Business Program was sponsored by the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW), based in Oklahoma City.
It is a business training and mentorship program to help develop skills necessary to start and grow a business. Fifteen women entrepreneurs from Afghanistan and Rwanda recently finished the final phase of the 10-week program that is in its eighth year and will be participating in a graduation ceremony July 29 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.