Resonate Partner Spotlight: Abahizi Rwanda

By: Megan Madeira

December 18, 2017

Abahizi Dushyigikirane means “Together we accomplish more” in Kinyarwanda. It is also the namesake and organizational philosophy of one of Resonate’s partners, Abahizi Rwanda.

Abahizi Rwanda is a premier handbag factory that supplies products to Kate Spade New York’s on purpose brand. More than that, Abahizi Rwanda is a team of artisans, team leaders, and managers who lead the way in community development in the village of Masoro. In a model that has been researched and lauded by Georgetown University, Kate Spade New York is pioneering a new, commercial approach to empowering women in their value chain, they call this program on purpose. Abahizi Rwanda is the first on purpose supplier and is located in Masoro RwandaUnlike other handbag factories, Abahizi Rwanda’s employees receive critical life skills trainings in counseling, health, finance, English, and leadership. In this approach, the factory enables women to act as catalysts for changes in themselves, their families, and their community.

Resonate is proud to be a part of this approach. We delivered leadership training to Abahizi Rwanda’s employees at all levels over the last two years – from the management team to the artisans. Our trainings have focused on self-confidence, communication skills, goal-setting, self-advocacy, and other critical interpersonal and leadership skills.

Darlene, the Life Skills manager at Abahizi Rwanda, commented on Resonate’s trainings, “The artisans are more confident to use their strength and values to achieve their goals. Every morning they set daily targets and it is no longer only the team leader to be working hard alone to achieve daily goals but the whole team works together and shares responsibilities to make sure everyone is being useful to achieve the target.”

Darlene went on to tell the story of Christine, who leads a team of machine operators and uses what she learned from Resonate in her work at the factory. At the beginning of each season, Christine meets with her team outside of work to focus on setting goals and communicating with her team to figure out what they want to accomplish. Christine says this has helped her to motivate her team. Darlene noted, “The Storytelling for Leadership model has helped our artisans to know each other and recognize each other’s areas of strength and value. It has reduced misunderstanding and conflicts between artisans and team members.”

The Abahizi Rwanda team inspires us as well. The way that the team has applied our trainings in their work is what we strive to achieve with all of our partners and participants. We have seen them grow and accomplish so much as individuals and as a team in the two years that we’ve worked with them.

Our partnership exemplifies what happens when organizations collaborate to give women access to skills and jobs, and the ability to recognize their own strength and find the confidence to lead changes in their community. Abahizi Rwanda’s commitment to transform the community they operate in motivates us to continue to empower the women we work with as well. We are so proud to learn from, collaborate with, and be inspired by the people who make up this factory. Our partnership has been true to the words, abahizi dushyigikirane.

Megan Madeira