Join HOPE in celebrating the clients featured in this year’s gift catalog, men and women using the gifts God has placed in their hands—talents, dreams, and hard work—to provide for their families and give back to their communities.
Full of entrepreneurial spirit, Francoise and her husband of 11 years, Etienne, know the joy of giving back. Francoise owns a thriving business in Burundi, where she and her four employees create colorfully patterned clothes. “I know how to sew everything,” she exclaims, “but my favorite things to sew are dresses.”
Etienne, also in the textile business, runs a shop in the busy Kamenge Market that sells fabric, thread, and other sewing supplies to the community. Together, they’re raising their five children, aged 2-9, as well as helping care for Francoise’s younger siblings. Six years ago, the couple adopted a sixth child whose parents were unable to care for her.
But even so, Francoise and Etienne didn’t have a safe place to save their money, leaving them few options in the face of unexpected expenses. When Francoise first heard about savings groups in November 2012, she was immediately intrigued by their focus on helping people improve their own lives. She joined the savings group Rukundo, meaning love, and began saving between $1.50 and $3 a month.
The power of love
After less than a year, Francoise increased that amount, saving between $3.50 and $14 each month. She took out a $200 loan from her group to purchase an electric sewing machine—which produces dresses much more quickly than the foot-powered machines she had been using—and to stock up on fabric, thread, and other supplies.
In addition to financial stability, Francoise appreciates the discipleship and community she has found within her group. “When our group gets together, we fellowship, pray, and share God’s Word,” Francoise explains. “We are able to develop close relationships with each other.”
Members of Rukundo demonstrated the fittingness of their name earlier this year when Francoise’s adopted daughter passed away suddenly for unknown health reasons. Overcome with grief, Francoise says the immense love and support shown by her group was a key part of the healing process.
In the future, Francoise hopes to develop another small business she recently started: renting dishes and cutlery for events. She plans to use a second loan to expand her inventory. For her family, Francoise dreams of finishing the home she and Etienne are building—upgrading their dirt floors to concrete—and of sending all her children to school.
Share Francoise’s story with your loved ones by buying representative items through HOPE’s gift catalog.