Marie Louise’s passion for culinary arts brings her success

Nyiraneza Marie Louise’s restaurant‘Umutuzo’ has blossomed into a full-fledged business since its initiation in May 2018. Recognised for the Rwandan food it serves, the restaurantcatersup to 45 clients everyday and makes a profit of around Rwf 100,000 per month.Marie, who runs her restaurant in Karongi District, came up with the idea aftershelost her job in a public institution.Although equipped with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, it was difficult to find another job in herline of study. Faced with a huge responsibility to support her family, she looked into prospects for alternative employment.

Marie had always been passionate about cooking and when she learnt about the culinary arts training offered by the German Development Cooperation through the Promotion of Economy and Employment Programme (Eco-Emploi) supported by GIZ, she grasped this opportunity. The training, provided by Henrik Schellhoss a master trainer from Germany, took place in February 2018 and lasted for 20 days. “I learned a lot during the training; fromrecipe planning to arranging and decorating food, creating menus that increases sales and developing function sheets. They also taught us a lot about maintaining hygiene. I really enjoyed the practical training.For me, it was one of a kind training. Itfuelled my desire to start my own restaurant. It was then that I also noticed that this area did not have enough restaurants and that further motivated me.”

Fully equipped with new skills, recipes and a renewed purpose, Marie agreed with her husband to sell their landto start the Umutuzo restaurantwith an investment of RWF 2,000,000. She rented a place with an advance payment forfive months,bought all the required equipment such as sauce-pans, chairs, tables, utensils, chafing dishes, cooking products etc.and started her venture in the restaurant business.

Within two months of its launch, the restaurant is not only gaining a reputation for serving delicious and hygienic food, but is also benefitting Marie financially.However, she does face her share ofchallenges; getting clientsis not always easy, electricity shortages hinder the running of things andhaving necessary equipment – especially food warmer – is expensive and not affordable. Even tasks that seem simple, like measuring the quantity of food to cook per day, sometimes turn out to be tedious. “I have lost many clients because my food was not warm. I now plan to sell my cow and buy the warming equipment.With that I am very confident that I will get even more clients and earn more.”Nevertheless, despite the obstacles, Marie remains determined. Her mantra is to take one step at a time.

At present, she retains four permanent staff that helps her in cooking, serving clients, cleaning and washing dishes. For Marie, the pride and joy lies not only in supporting her family and contributing to the expenses side by side with her husband, but also employing people so that they can in turn support their families. She also explains that being able to trust her own knowledge and skills as well as thepositive feedback from her clients that her food is tasty and clean motivates her to keep going.

The restaurantis now able to caterfor big events such as weddings and Marie aspiresto expand her business in the future. She planstoget a better venue for her restaurant, like in a commercial building, that will be easily accessibletoclients.