We are excited to announce this year’s Homes for HOPE Honorees – Ezekiel Minani and Julienne Uwineza. When Ezekiel was first introduced to Urwego, HOPE’s microfinance institution in Rwanda, he and his wife Julienne and two young children lived in a small mud house with no running water or electricity. A small maize (corn) flour business couldn’t support their growing family. They dreamed of a better future but had no access to capital.

When a friend introduced Ezekiel to Urwego, he joined a trust group. This model requires group members to cross guarantee each other’s loans, building relational capital and ensuring loan repayment. Ezekiel used his first loan to invest in his small maize flour business. Soon, Julienne had also joined the trust group, and they expanded with a variety of new businesses. Over the years, the couple learned from failed ventures and started businesses that added value to their community without depending too heavily on any one sector of the economy.

Today, their legacy includes a grocery store, a general store, wholesale shops, a hardware store, and charcoal shops. They’ve invested in land and built twelve rental properties. They manage a piggery and multiple plantations. Across their household and many businesses, Ezekiel and Julienne currently employ eighteen workers and encourage each of them to save and start their own businesses. 

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