Circularity in action: inspiring initiatives from Rwanda
Two visionary entrepreneurs in Rwanda, Umuziranenge Blandine of Kosmotive and Planté Josué Niyomugenga of Aflimba, are leading the way in promoting circular economy principles. Through innovative initiatives in the health and fashion industries, they extend product lifecycles, reduce waste, and optimise resource usage.
At the heart of the CirculUP! project lies a compelling mission – to spotlight and celebrate pioneering entrepreneurs within the Impact Hub Network, who exemplify the principles of the circular economy. By sharing their journeys, our goal is to boost awareness and promote the adoption of a circular economy in Armenia, catalysing a transformative shift toward sustainability.
This is the inspiring story of two entrepreneurs from Rwanda: Umuziranenge Blandine, founder and CEO of Kosmotive, and Planté Josué Niyomugenga, founder of AFLIMBA are at the forefront of creating solutions that extend product life cycles, reduce waste, and promote the efficient use of resources in the health and fashion industries.
Their exemplary commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with the mission of Impact Hub Kigali, which seeks to support and nurture these visionary entrepreneurs. Through the Circular Economy Acceleration Programme, they were provided with the necessary tools and support to transform their innovative circular ideas into real-world solutions. This contribution aims to foster a more sustainable and circular economy, making a lasting and positive impact on the world.
Founded in 2014, Kosmotive is a social enterprise leading the charge in revolutionising menstrual product manufacturing through its circular economy initiative. At the heart of their innovation are KosmoPads, eco-friendly and hygienic sanitary pads crafted from 100% cloth, ensuring they can be washed and reused for up to two years.
This sustainable alternative addresses the affordability and accessibility challenges faced by women and girls in rural Rwanda, who often struggle to access and afford disposable pads. Opting for Kosmopads help them to save up to 88% of the money they would have spent in two years.
Beyond providing eco-friendly menstrual products, Kosmotive offers vital reproductive health education, covering topics such as menstruation, and contraception. Additionally, the organisation empowers women by generating employment opportunities. Notably, their circular economy model significantly reduces waste and pollution by recycling used KosmoPads into innovative products like mats and pillows.
Kosmotive stands out for its commitment to circular economy principles, preserving products and materials in use while minimising waste and pollution. This has a profound impact on both society and the environment.
Another inspiring venture, Aflimba, is reshaping the landscape of sustainable fashion in Rwanda and promoting artisanry in rural areas. At the core of their groundbreaking approach are reclaimed denim bags called “Kintsugi”, meticulously hand-crafted from discarded denim jeans.
Aflimba’s dedication to recycling extends beyond environmental impact; it symbolises a radical shift in the way society views waste. These denim bags are not just stylish accessories; they represent a fusion of fashion and sustainability.
By repurposing denim, Aflimba champions a circular economy model where materials are reused, not discarded. These bags, once fashion staples, are transformed into trendy, functional accessories, each imbued with a unique story and history. Aflimba’s commitment to promoting artisanry in rural areas has created a ripple effect, providing employment opportunities for skilled craftsmen who breathe life into each bag.
Furthermore, Aflimba actively engages in raising awareness about sustainable fashion, encouraging consumers to make mindful choices, with their denim bags serving as powerful symbols, proving that style and sustainability can seamlessly coexist.
In embracing the circular economy, Aflimba not only turns harmful waste into resources but also fosters a sense of community and pride among consumers, turning each purchase into a statement endorsing a vision where fashion becomes a force for positive change.
Kosmotive and Aflimba exemplify the transformative power of circular economy principles. Their initiatives not only demonstrate the pivotal role of circular economy in driving sustainable development but also serve as a testament to the entrepreneurs’ dedication to social and environmental stewardship.
By providing eco-friendly products, education, and employment opportunities, these initiatives are not just businesses; they are agents of change, illuminating the path to a more sustainable and inclusive future. These ventures featured in the CirculUP! project is a testament that the circular economy is not just a concept but a practical and viable path to a brighter, more environmentally conscious future for the country.
This article is presented in collaboration with Impact Hub Kigali.
The CirculUP! project in Armenia is a transformative initiative spearheaded by the collaborative efforts of the Impact Hub Network, Impact Hub Yerevan, and the Environment and Health NGO, with support from the European Union in Armenia.
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