BUJUMBURA July 16th (ABP) –Motivated by entrepreneurship, Mrs. Suavis Citegetse, a lawyer by training and a member of the Bujumbura bar, has put down her toga to embark on an entrepreneurial career. Despite the difficulties associated with the Covid-19, which has devoured a large part of its clientele, its business is still resisting.
Mrs. Citegetse’s entrepreneurial choice was first of all motivated by, as she affirms herself, the free time after her job which quickly led her to realize that something has to be looked for to occupy usefully and then by unemployment of certain members of his family who after having finished the school course came to ask him to help them to find employment as elder of the family.
All of those factors combined, she says, have led her to create the “Smile Plus” business, which consists of making new collections of handbags for women and girls, as well as jewelry and various articles of decoration.
Currently Mrs. Citegetse devotes most of her time to her business. “Before it was to keep others occupied but afterwards I discovered that it is my passion. I spend a lot of time on it myself with my team and I’m comfortable, “she said. The team she is talking about consists of 5 employees including family members already hired full time.
As a business owner, she takes care of design and administration while the others take care of the rest. Just two years into action, Mrs. Citegetse appreciates the step already taken. “Our products are really appreciated by our customers who find our designs and our way of doing impeccable”, she revealed while informing that her starting capital was 500,000 BIF but that her current turnover is rising at 5,000,000 BIF.
The current situation related to the coronavirus has a profound impact on all types of businesses, which of Mrs. Citegetse is not spared.
Following this pandemic, a large part of its clientele has completely disappeared. Currently it only relies on local customers. “Most of our products were bought by people who gave them as gifts to their people who are mainly in Europe, the USA, Canada and so forth. But currently, because of this scourge, we no longer send parcels abroad, “she said.” Today we only stay with the local market, which means that our clientele has decreased significantly,” she continued.
Despite that precarious situation, the company “Smile Plus” was able to survive thanks to the resistance strategies that were put in place. “Faced with these challenges, we have strengthened our marketing system. Now, we no longer expect the customer to come to us, but it is rather ourselves who go to the customer, “she says. She also reports that she spends time with herself and her team roaming workplaces (office to office), haggling products, making deliveries and sometimes home deliveries.
For entrepreneurs facing the challenges of Covid-19, Mrs. Citegetse provides advice. “The needs are always there in the country between men, we must identify what people need most and operate in this sector,” she warned.
Currently, Burundi is facing a worrying situation between the supply and demand of employment because a large proportion of young graduates are faced with unemployment.
According to the report of the Support for Integral Development and Solidarity in the villages (ADISCO), in 2015, 60% of young people were unemployed and 2 years later, in 2017, 65% of young people were, according to the World Bank (WB) without work.
According to the World Bank, that situation is due to the economic growth of Burundi which does not follow the demographic growth. Currently, 93% of young people entering the labor market will take an average of 5 years to find a job (ADISCO).
For Mrs. Citegetse, only the development of an entrepreneurial culture among young Burundians is necessary to reduce the unemployment that plagues them. “Unemployed youth should be aware and take the entrepreneurial route without delay,” she said.
Entrepreneurship at Mrs. Citegetse is not just limited to “Le Sourire plus”. She has already founded a school, “Ecole le Sourire”, the creation of which was also motivated by the long-lived and observed situation where children in her native province (Ruyigi) could not attend nursery school. “I was deeply touched and haunted by the fact that the children in my native region do not have access to nursery school and I wanted to contribute in my own way to alleviate this problem,” she points out.
The school “Le Sourire” currently has 360 pupils (kindergarten and primary) and the first class arrives in 6th grade, she underlined while specifying that a group of parents, animated by good initiatives and most of whom have children at that school, joined her from the basic school as shareholders.