The first and only woman private driver in Kigali, Priscilla Uwambaje, 30, had to fight against the advice of her in-laws, prejudices and funding problems to run this business. Today, she intends to create her own company and train other women.
« I am happy and proud today. In the interval of eight months, I have paid off my creditors, supported my family, and I have a business that I am passionate about, » says Priscilla Uwambaje.
The path has been strewn with pitfalls. Born in Nyanzi, a province in southern Rwanda, Priscilla became very early attracted to tourism. « In our city was the palace of the king. We received a few visitors and I liked to talk to them. » Older, Priscilla naturally began studies related to this sector. « During high school, I studied accounting, but once at university, I opted for tourism management. »
The Kigali Convention Center. This is where Priscilla will meet her destiny
Tenacity from toe to head
Unfortunately, the young student has to stop her studies. Bride, she got pregnant. A second child would follow. « My in-laws wanted me to stay at home to take care of children. It was not easy. But I could not stay without going out and doing nothing. I had to go back to school to build my future. » Despite the disapproval of her in-laws who are hunting her, she works at night in a club and studies during the day. « I was not sleeping. I was barely earning enough to live with my children. But Priscilla held on and completed her studies.
« You? But you are a woman? Did your husband agree ? »
Destiny then comes knocking on her door. « I hear that the brand new Congress Palace is recruiting. I submitted my application. After three interviews, I was recruited as a barmaid ».
Priscilla earns more than in her previous job and has an insurance … but not enough to support her family decently. « I thought for two weeks about what I could do. At her place of work, the idea comes to her. The Congress Palace is next to Radisson Hotel, which works with a private transport company. Priscilla offered her driver services. « I had a little car that my mother-in-law had given me before we got angry. But I could not carry customers with it. I had to buy a car. For that, she needed seven million Rwandan francs (7,000 euros). “I sold my car for 2.7 million Rwandan francs (2,700 euros). I did not have any savings. With my monthly salary, I could save three million, but I needed four. I went to apply for a loan from the bank, they refused because I had no guarantee. I then asked a relative, he said, « You’re crazy nobody will lend you this money.» I said to myself, it is true, nobody will lend me that amount. However, someone can lend me a million, another a million and so on. And that is how Priscilla raised the money and bought her car. In the meantime, she asked her manager for permission to work for the transport company. « He told me : “You a driver ? But you are a woman, did your husband agree ?”. I told him that I did not have to ask anyone for permission to do what I wanted. » Finally, sensitive to her motivation, he let her. She had to wait other two months before meeting the leader of the famous transport company that recruited her. « It was a Friday, recalls Priscilla. The following Tuesday, I started. »
Woman behind the wheel, success at the turn
With an excellent command of English, Priscilla also speaks fluently French and Italian, the assets to seduce customers. « Some people are surprised to see a woman driving. Apparently, even in Europe, this is rare ». Priscilla reimbursed in eight months all her debts. Now she works for another hotel, Kigali Mariott Hotel, but within the same transport company. She is also haboring new projects. « I want to create my own taxi company for female drivers. This activity will enable them, like me, to support their families. » An ambition achievable without any doubt thanks to Priscilla’s perseverance.
Priscilla transports the guests of the Marriott Hotel Kigali today