Fri. Dec 13th, 2019

Heaven on the Mountains

A story of Sina Gerard in transforming lives through
hope, prosperity and improved livelihoods

Born and raised in a village in the current Rulindo district, Sina started his humble agrarian life,
struggled, missed going to school, toiled and now owns Sina Gerard enterprise Urwibutso, a multi
chain industry and several model farms.

By DIAS NYESIGA

The weather seemed cool after a drizzle in the month of October and buses are snaking in at Nyirangarama, a popular bus
stop in Rulindo district. Herds of people are moving out of the buses and private cars rushing towards a storey building that
houses two selling points. On its side are cottages where men are busy roasting meat and Irish potatoes.
On the first floor of the storey building is the VIP restaurant whose window provides a picturesque view of the twin
mountains-Terimbere and Tare. Terimbere looks taller and overlooks the busy Nyirangarama, with its foothills
accommodating the popular Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso, a household multi chain industry that has lived in the lives of
many people from generation to generation.
Through the window you get a glimpse of the green mountains with fresh banana plantations, hay grass for cattle, well-
cultured gardens on the terraces, houses covered with shining iron sheets — all these tell a story that started with a one
man’s (Sina Gerard) dream in transforming the community.
Sina Gerard’s image is permanently engraved in the mind of Elidebrante Mugemangango, a father of 5, resident of
Nyirangarama cell. A mention of this name (Sina Gerard) made his face glow covering the wrinkles of the aging skin.


“I can’t tell how my heart wants to thank Sina Gerard but what I know is without Sina I would be a forgotten history, all I have
is because of him,” Mugemangango says as he smears his cow in a shed.
Mugemangango is one of the less privileged that have benefited under Sina Gerard giving back to the community which has
seen many lives transformed from poverty, most of them moved from the lower category(Ubudehe 1) to the second and
third.
“I came to ask him to give me his cow and look after it,” then he asked me, “will you manage to look after the cow when you
are in Kigali?”. At that time, Mugemangango was still working in Kigali.
“He gave it to me without hesitation,” he added smilingly.
In Rwandan culture, a person with no cow can ask the other to give him a cow to look after. Under this arrangement, the
owner takes back their cow after it has produced and the calf remains with the caretaker. This tradition was meant to allow
people help each other get out of poverty.
“The cow produced 13 litres of milk a day and I got enough money to buy basic necessities for my family and my children
recovered from malnutrition,” he said. He said that Sina later gave him another one; he then sold the bullock from the first
cow and got money to build a house.
To further support him, Sina gave Mugemangango 10 apple seedlings, oranges, strawberries and 50 banana tubers, and this
changed his life. “So I would sell all my produce to his factory and he paid me instantly,” Mugemangango added.

For Patricia Mukamana — from Tare village, Nyirangarama cell — had become a destitute and homeless, she survives on the
mercy of well wishers.
“I was like a living dead, even animals would not want to eat me, I had wished God take my life.” she said. Her life changed
when she was on a roadside and Sina stopped on his way to Saint Gerard Chapel named after him.
“He (Sina) asked me, what can I help you?,” she recalled. That moment made her heart beat with hope that things are going
to change for the better. She said that in just few days, Sina built her a house, planted a banana plantation and gave her a cow
while her 3 children were sent to school without paying any school fees.


Kamili Bigegari, a father of two was working at the factory at Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso, he didn’t have any skills in
food processing. After learning about Sina’s kindness, he approached him and asked to go back to school to learn food
processing.
“I went and asked Sina Gerard to help me and without any hesitation, he accepted my plea and I am now in my final year in
food processing at the foundation college,” he said.
Kamili’s two children are also studying for free in the lower primary at the Sina Gerard Foundation College and he is allowed
to work at the factory during his holidays, helping him to raise more income for his family.
All these are tales of giving back to the community by Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso, a chain of industry known for
producing quality products and for empowering and improving people’s lives.
“Apart from giving people quality products that they need in their daily lives, I also make sure that their socio-economic lives
improve,” said Sina Gerard, Managing Director and owner of Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso.
Sina says that he does not aim at supporting people through giving money but rather agricultural support like seedlings,
animals such as cows, goats, pigs, rabbits, as well as building houses for those that are less privileged.
“When a farmer receives the seedlings he goes and plants them. During the harvest, we buy all his produce,” Sina continued,
“So he doesn’t come here as a beggar but a producer who then sells his products to us”.
In order to ensure that these people have sustainable income and livelihoods after the support from Enterprise Urwibutso.
Sina set up a financial approach where the enterprise buys all the produce and channels their money to the bank which
then guarantees their financial flow to help them access credit.
“This approach gives them hope and assurance that the country they are in is the best place compared to others in the world.
The government has exerted its efforts in ensuring that whatever they do, what they eat, where they live — the government
is concerned about them and ready to provide them assistance,” he said.
In his approach towards transforming communities, Sina has set up a foundation College that has nursery, primary and
secondary school, where people from poor families can have free education; the school has over 1,800 students. Most
students are children of those farmers that work with the enterprise and the employees of the factory.
In addition, a technical school was established to provide technical and vocational skills to youth in order to be self-
employed. The technical school has several sections that include; mechanics, hair dressing, welding, construction, plumbing,
agronomy and veterinary among others.
“We are helping people but all these initiatives also benefit us, the students from these schools are employed in our farms
and factories and others become entrepreneurs who then become our business partners,” he added.
His approach towards investing in education is driven by his belief that when children are educated and given the required
skills, they will be able to protect and improve what the older generation has left for them.
“Teaching these children who didn’t not have the opportunity to go to school means we are training future doctors,
agronomists, engineers, leaders, teachers, entrepreneurs, technicians that would take over from us,” he added.
Moreover, the enterprise has contributed to the construction of infrastructure such as roads, chapels, schools, access to
electricity as well as building Nyirangarama cell offices as well as the health centres around the district.

He added, “We still have a long journey in improving the livelihoods of people and we will continue to do so.”
Sina feels happy when his example is transforming the lives of the people in the community and is being used as an example
to transform communities in different places.
A stunning example is a youth from Ivory Coast who saw on CNN what Sina Gerard Enterprise Urwibutso is doing and
replicated it in his country and has created an impact. Sina’s contributions to the development of the country has been
researched by graduate students in Europe and in the US.

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