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. Continue Reading…