Black Stories: Assumpta Uwamariya is the founder of Karisimbi Wines, a company she established in 2016 after years of being in the unemployment market and doing casual jobs that didn’t give her enough money. It was while working one of such casual jobs with a German-funded project in Ruhengeri in the Musanze District of Rwanda, that her attention was drawn to the economic benefits of fruits.
Uwamariya’s job at the time was to purchase food items and make juice for the staff of the organization. During this time, she began research on how she could make wine from fruits and got introduced to a wine-maker in Germany who taught her how. Having gained that skill, she started experimenting with beetroot and pineapple.
“After some experiments, I invited my friends and neighbours to taste the wine. To my surprise, the wine was well appreciated, and it became a special product in my village,” she told How We Made It In Africa. Riding on the wave of great feedback, Uwamariya made her first batch of commercial wine in January 2016 and established her company.
The wines are produced in different fruit variants, beetroot, grape, pineapple and banana. And they each sell at different prices depending on shelf life and the cost and availability of the fruit. A small bottle, 375ml, of beetroot wine is sold at Rwf1,500($2), and a 750ml bottle is sold at Rwf3,000($4). Small bottles of grape wine go for Rwf2,000($3), while bigger bottles cost Rwf4,000($5). However, wines that have been in store for over nine months are sold for double their actual price.
Initially, Uwamariya sold 100 bottles of wine a month, but now, she sells 600 bottles a week. “I earn between Rwf400,000($452) and Rwf500,000($565) as profit per month after meeting all the expenses,” she told The New Times. She also pays salaries amounting to Rwf 800,000($900) each month and has purchased a vehicle for the distribution of her wines.
Currently, the 28-year-old grows beetroot on a small scale and augment additional stock for her wine by buying off farmers in the area, thereby creating a market for them. Going forward, she would love to own a bigger farm and a winery of her own to cut down on the cost of production and raw material.
“Karisimbi Wines has already been tested and met international standards. In the local market, it is more competitive than wines imported from Europe, Asia and South Africa. We are now proposing that the government should promote the local manufacturing of wine bottles,” she said.
Since its establishment, Karisimbi Wines has won several awards, including the YouthConnekt Best Innovator Award 2016, where she won Rwf5 million($5700) in prize money and the Bank of Kigali’s inaugural BK Urumuri Entrepreneurship initiative’s Rwf9 million($10000) interest-free loan.