Since the genocide against the Tutsis in 1994, Rwanda has fought a battle against its children’s stunting problem. With the country’s population consisting mostly of youth, Rwanda has been pressing efforts to create sustainable resources to transform communities through health and
economic empowerment. Inspirational women such as Fortunee Uwimana experienced firsthand the loss of not just one or two family members but all relatives due to this hate crime against the Tutsi population, a community known for its social position and wealth. Experiencing such tragic events and having no one to turn to for comfort, Fortunee faced formidable obstacles in life to regain a sense of normalcy. Still, during those dark times, Fortunee knew she and her community couldn’t fall to the side of oppression.

Born in the Southern Province of Rwanda, in Nyamagabe District, into a family of nine children, Fortunee knew at an early age the struggle of scarce food and its impact on malnutrition. The suffering of malnutrition is an issue that affects Rwanda’s society today. Ultimately,
the problem affects society as a whole, causing generational poverty. Children who suffer from malnutrition often experience life effects resulting in lower language development rates, poor school performance, decreased cognivity, and, most importantly, higher rates of mortality.

Despite Fortunee losing all her family, she gives her time by providing emergency aid to those in need. With a love and passion for farming and helping the less fortunate, Fortunee pursued a secondary education in social sciences at Karubanda School, and a bachelor’s degree in Public
Administration at the University of Rwanda. Then, Fortunee worked for the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAR), a
research and development institute in dairy and animal production. While working there, she became inspired to create her own business, selling fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices.

Since 2010, Fortunee has been a self-employed businesswoman in the agriculture industry; by ensuring equal access to treatment and nutritional education, Fortunee has begun to impact hunger alleviation. In helping the Nyamagabe District, she has improved small farm owners’ lives by assisting them toward achieving maximum results. Her generosity has brought families together at the dinner table while connecting small farmers and buyers in the community.

Over the next couple of years, Fortunee hopes to inspire future generations of entrepreneurs while expanding her business to other countries in need.

“I do whatever I can to help the next person” – Fortunee UWIMANA

by Erica Garcia, IEEW Student Coordinator