Janviere Kamana beams as she stands among waist-high sacks of cassava flour under the strong midday sun. Young men lift heavy sacks of the staple food into the bed of a truck bound for a distant boarding school. Nearby, chalk-white cassava dries in the sun, nearly ready to be ground into flour and sold to customers around Burundi. This is Janviere’s business—buying dried cassava and grinding it into flour for sale—and it’s thriving.
It took several years of perseverance and hard work to achieve this success. Janviere began her business in 2009 with just $30, buying 220 pounds of cassava to grind and sell. She made just enough to get by, but after rent was paid and immediate needs met, Janviere struggled to save any meaningful sum of money. Her business stalled, and she couldn’t afford to pay school fees for her children.
Provision & grief
Janviere’s husband died in 2000 during Burundi’s civil war—a brutal, 12-year conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Her family’s sole provider, Janviere raised six children, often borrowing money from friends to make ends meet. In 2011, two years after starting her cassava flour business, Janviere’s eldest daughter, Mary, died in a car accident. Mary’s young children—Anita, Eli, and Helen—came to live with Janviere, stretching limited resources even further.
A year later, Janviere’s church invited members of the congregation and local community to form new savings group. Though she hadn’t saved money before, Janviere joined a group called “Let’s Develop Each Other” and began saving $3 a week, later increasing to $7. Soon members began taking loans from the group, which they repaid with interest, growing the group’s collective savings to over $3,000. Janviere took out a $100 loan and expanded her inventory with 770 pounds of dried cassava, allowing her to take more orders and serve even more customers.
Hope in God’s grace
As her business flourishes, Janviere is also experiencing the blessing of fellowship and friendship. In solidarity, her savings group not only saves together, they also learn from each other, pray together, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. After experiencing such uncertainty and vulnerability for so long, Janviere’s hope for the future is unwavering. She wants to expand her business with a new delivery truck, finish building her first home on her own property, and see all her children and grandchildren attend university.
Through both success and personal loss, Janviere sees God’s sustaining hand, bringing her renewed joy and provision. “I am so happy to do something to move our lives forward,” she says. “By God’s grace I have been successful, and … I can do something to help my family.”