Many tourists who visit Rwanda have expressed more interest in the most sought after destinations like Volcanoes national park for attractions like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, hike of the Virunga Mountains and Dian Fossey, Nyungwe national park for Chimpanzees and canopy walk, Akagera national park for the African game big five, Kigali city for a feel of the urban Rwanda and the shores of lake Kivu to wind down. A visit to all the above destinations surely contributes much revenue to the Republic of Rwanda and the wellbeing of the people of Rwanda.

The people of Rwanda are hospitable and very welcoming and overtime have come up with initiatives projects and programs appealing to tourists who visit Rwanda. Most of the projects are aimed at exhibiting the culture and way of living of the people of Rwanda. Most of these projects are supported by NGOs and government but also thrive on donations made by tourists who go for the experience.

One of the projects where tourists get to experience the culture and way of living of the people of Rwanda is Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center.

Built and operated by Women for Women International with the generous funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies and others, the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center provides a safe environment and dedicated facilities where women can learn, build new skills, and operate businesses that directly contribute to the local communities.  The center offers:

A space of learning for women and men. The Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center provides vocational and life skills training for women and supports our Men’s Engagement Program, designed to build support for women’s economic and social empowerment in Rwanda.

A hub for women’s entrepreneurship. The center provides women with a space for income generating activities, business mentoring, access to financial services and markets, and cooperative and agribusiness support.

A gathering space for events. The Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center welcomes business, government, and other groups for meetings, celebrations and special events with conference facilities, accommodations, dining and an open-air tent overlooking our lush gardens.

A center for tourism. En-route to the gates to Akagera National Park, the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center is well positioned to bring tourism to Eastern Province. Guests enjoy comfortable accommodations, dining, shopping, and Rwanda cultural experiences while supporting women’s economic development.

A resource for the community. The center conducts community outreach activities to help meet the social and economic needs of the Kayonza community and to establish the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center as a vibrant place for women, children and men in the community to learn new skills and improve their well being. Outreach services include monthly HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, Sexual Reproductive Health campaigns, family planning services, Gender-Based Violence prevention campaigns, evening forums for parents, hygiene and nutrition demonstrations and discussions, and counseling and support services for women and girls.

A model of environmentally conscious design. The striking campus, conceived by architect Sharon Davis, was built using 450,000 clay bricks handcrafted by a local women’s cooperative run by Women for Women International program graduate Angelique Mukankubana. On-site solar power generation, rainwater harvesting, biogas cooking fuel, and composting toilets help minimize the Center’s environmental impact.

The center is a permanent haven where formerly excluded women can inspire their still aspiring sisters to advance themselves, their families, their communities and the nation, brick by brick.

 About Women for Women International

Since 1993, Women for Women International has helped more than 447,000 marginalized women in countries affected by war and conflict, offering support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency.

The center brings women together in a safe space to learn life, business, and vocational skills. Each participant receives a monthly stipend as she learns new income-generating skills and discovers how to protect her legal rights and improve her family’s health and nutrition. The result: stronger women, stronger families, and stronger communities.

Women for Women International delivers her programs through the generous support of individual, corporate and foundation donors, partners, and governments. The center offers a wide range of activities for tourists;

 Cultural Experiences

Discover Rwanda through the eyes of local women artisans and entrepreneurs. The Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center provides training and space for women to learn, demonstrate and sell traditional crafts, artwork and food products. Explore the surrounding community, as well, to learn about local farm and coffee production. Guided tours can be arranged for individuals and groups.

 Crafts Demonstrations

The “pods” on the campus of the center were built from clay bricks made by a local women’s cooperative. The pods are round, because Rwandan women prefer to work together in a circle. Watch as they weave natural materials into beautiful baskets and paint the striking black, white and red spirals known as Imigongo, an art form practiced in Rwanda since the 18th century. Learn the meaning of the various traditional designs and how the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center is enabling local women to continue these cherished artistic traditions and use their creativity to earn income.

 Food Production

The “farm house” is our commercial kitchen, where local women make organic cheese, yoghurt and peanut butter. Learn how these products are made, taste samples and listen as the women share how their new skills are enabling them to earn income, support their families and send their children to school.

 Njagama Women’s Farm Tour

Watch women tending the Njagama women’s organic farm adjacent to the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center. The women can demonstrate sustainable farming techniques, which enable them to grow a broad range of crops, including cassava, cabbage, celery, bananas, tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, onion, lettuce, and spinach. Gain an appreciation for their talents and hard work, and then enjoy the bounty of their harvest in dishes served at the Urugo Restaurant!

 Coffee Trail

Follow Olivier, the barista at the Roadside Café, on a 6km trek through a lush valley to a local coffee farm and bean washing facility. Learn about local coffee plants, how the beans are processed and taste a variety of native blends. This invigorating hike will touch all your senses, as you learn about local flora and fauna, farming traditions and one man’s love of coffee.

Kayonza Town

Discover how the locals live with a 2km walk or moto ride into Kayonza Town. We’ll recommend local bars, restaurants, shops and activities, so you can explore this bustling town on your own, meet friendly local residents and take home incredible memories.

Supporting Women’s Economic Development

When you enjoy the cultural experiences at the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center, you’re supporting the social and economic development of local women and surrounding communities. Since 2013, the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center has provided a secure, supportive environment where women can find support, access resources, and build life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency.  Women for Women International thanks you for choosing the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center.

You can include a visit to this center in one of your Rwanda safari itinerary- not only will you enjoy the cultural exhibitions at the center, you will have contributed to the different programs that will enrich the people at the center.