After primary school, Viateur Ndahayo could not pursue further education due to financial challenges. As the first child, he had to also assist his mother to provide for his siblings. He decided to venture into the horticulture industry in Rwanda by cultivating flowers for a growing market.
In recent times, flower as a gift has become fashionable among Rwandan elites. It has also become a multi-million industry providing jobs to hundreds of people.
“I was competent and excelled in my studies but my mother’s land was too small to finance our education,” Ndahayo recalled in an interview with Forbes Africa. “I grew flowers as an experiment because it was not a common activity here. Only one Belgian company used to do it.”
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Ndahayo is used to seeing green plants, however, colored plants caught his attention and made him quite inquisitive. “I didn’t envisage a profitable business growing flowers, I was just driven by passion.”
With no formal training, he started planting flowers hoping to make a living out of it and employ others. He had challenges with getting land to scale up his business as well as getting seeds and equipment. Nonetheless, he persevered with the little that he could gather to keep his business going.
He commuted from his village to Kigali, the Rwandan capital, to sell his product. “I had to package up to 10 flower vases in a carton and carry them on my head because I had no transport. I would receive $1 to $3 for each,” he said.
At a point, Ndahayo nearly gave up owing to what his friends were saying about him. “At times, I felt hesitant about what I was doing and my colleagues thought I was crazy. But the passion I had kept me going,” he said.
Knowing the economic challenges of his family, he did not allow his friends to influence him to change course. Rather, he consulted some of the industry players on how to profit from the sector.
Today, Ndahayo has become a go-to flower grower in Kigali, beautifying the city one flower at a time. He has over 270 types of flowers and plants such as Hemerocallis, Agapanthus blue, Roystonea palm and Ixora red, to name a few, according to Forbes Africa.
What’s more, he now makes an average of $1000 a month and lives in his own house with his family. Also, he has employed 10 people permanently and is hoping to form his own company, Green Smart Farm, so as to venture into greenhouse agriculture.
Like any other successful entrepreneur, Ndahayo has his own challenges. Securing a loan to expand his business remains a challenge.
“For example, you can’t go to a bank and secure a loan for this business. They’ll tell you we don’t trust it. But I’m telling you, it’s profitable although it’s a long-term investment,” he asserted.