Project Empower


Project Empower is a new objective for Rise Rwanda. Its aim is to foster sustainability through a Microfinance project. Based on organisational experience of finance and economics within Rise Rwanda, along with familiarity with the local community, we are now in a strong position to utilize tried-and-tested methods of investment and business planning to stimulate growth of a local proliferating economy in Rwamagana. Candidates of this programme are all mothers or guardians of children currently involved with Rise Rwanda.

IMG_2447By setting these females up as entrepreneurs we are establishing them as role models in the community, increasing the household income, reducing dependency on charity and improving prospects for the children. Microfinance is shown to be among the most effective means of poverty alleviation. By providing economic opportunity and support, it presents impoverished people with the chance to become self-sufficient. In the context of our project, financing business ventures for mothers and guardians of school children has many positive effects – it improves the quality of life, it improves the ability to educate children, and most importantly it places these women at the heart of the economy and presents them as role models for their children. In total, we view this as the most effective way to break the cycle of poverty.

The Story So Far:


This project has been in planning for over three years. In that time we have identified a group of thirty women to form our first micro finance group. These women have all developed personalised business plans, tailored to their strengths and interest, and which have been examined for feasibility by trained experts.  We have validated these business plans in the context of the local environment and put in place training for these women. This training will introduce these women to savings and benefits of planning opportunities that can come from regularly saving. The training components are intended to increase effectiveness of credit lines, increase productivity and ultimately increase income for the entrepreneurs. This training will also be helpful overcoming a variety of non-financial barriers that they may encounter. Training consists of SME business administration, basic accountancy, and marketing. Although training may be ongoing it is generally only given once before the entrepreneur receives their first loan.

The Model:

IMG_2290We are adopting a model of group lending. Group-lending projects experience much higher repayment rates than commercial lending institutions due to peer-monitoring and support. As a group, our candidate entrepreneurs meet on a regular basis where they receive mentoring and support. These meetings involve a local Rwandan who is educated in economics and finance and who is providing expert advice. This individual also manages planning and reporting of the project and business ventures from the ground. A number of meeting have taken place with the candidates and they are very excited about the potential for this project.


We want to EMPOWER the women entrepreneurs of Rwanda and help them to be in a position to provide for their families. We predict that this work will have a positive impact on the local community by increasing commerce and creating local employment. We want to assist these women to realise their entrepreneurial dreams, to be in a strong position to provide for their families, and to become stronger ROLE MODELS for their children and their community!

The OBJECTIVES of this project are as follows:

  • Provide microloans to female guardians in the community.
  • Establish female role models.
  • Establish sustainable means for a good quality of life for the children.
  • Foster a sustainable and proliferating local economy.
  • Overcome poverty and improve access to education, healthcare, and technology.
  • Achieve positive return on donated capital.
  • Grow and expand the initiative through reinvested returns.
  • Encourage an environmentally conscious workforce.
  • …do it with joy 🙂

Microfinance can help break the cycle of poverty in a number of ways:

  • Providing micro entrepreneurs with the capital needed to start their businesses, and giving them access to a reliable source of credit allows them to better plan their business activities and manage their cash flow. Although the size of the loans may seem small (sometimes just €150), it is worth remembering that for half of the world’s population who survive on less than €2 a day; this is still a significant sum.
  • The increased income generated by businesses, and the ability to save and obtain loans, allows disadvantaged people an opportunity to build their assets, for example by acquiring land, constructing or improving their homes and purchasing livestock and poultry.
  • Secure and accessible savings facilities provide a means for poor people to reduce the vulnerability of uncertain and irregular incomes, by allowing them to better manage risk and cash flow. Entrepreneurs receive training on how to save and the benefits of saving; a portion of each week’s repayment will go into savings. Access to credit, savings and insurance helps to smooth cash flows and avoid periods when access to food, clothing, shelter, or education is lost. Microfinance can make it easier to manage shocks such as sickness to the family breadwinner or theft. Savings are also used to accumulate money that can be used for investment or to meet the costs associated with expected commitments such as their children’s education and weddings or unexpected events such as ill health and funerals.

Invest in a Business:

We have received seed funding from The RTE One World Fund and The UDG Healthcare CSR Fund. This will allow us to begin funding business ventures for 13 entrepreneurs but there are many more potential entrepreneurs hoping to obtain capital for their business plans. If you are looking to make a seriously impactful difference in the lives of many, choose this donation option . Based on the prerequisite that recipients of financial support are prepared to generate a positive return on the investment. It is expected that loans will be repaid over time, entrepreneurs will become self-sufficient, and funds will become available to repeat the process again. In theory the donation could be recycled indefinitely.

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School Fund

Since its inception, Rise Rwanda has been primarily focused on supporting education for vulnerable children in Rwamagana. We believe that education is the key to making lasting change in disadvantaged communities. It’s the way to change social attitudes, enable children to grow into well-equipped adults, and foster a growing economy.

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Numerous studies have shown that children who are sponsored are more likely to stay in school. They are more likely to find a job in the future and even become positive leaders in their communities.  Importantly, girls who remain in education are far less likely to get married at a young age, become pregnant at a young age, or even turn to unsavory vocations as a means of survival.

IMG-20170502-WA0059Rise Rwanda began with the sponsorship of just three children and is now supporting education for over 20. Sponsorship includes; 2 meals per school day, health insurance,  school books, school uniforms, PE gear and transport to school.

IMG-20170319-WA0064You can contribute to this sponsorship though this link. You can choose a nominal donation amount or yearly sponsorship. Yearly sponsorship is just €330 and if you sign up you will receive details of the child you’re sponsoring and their story so far.   You will also receive regular updates and three school reports each year on how the child is getting on in school.

img_4831Even better you could contribute by attending one of Rise Rwanda’s #givingbackthroughyoga classes. These donation based yoga classes have snowballed in popularity and they offer mutual benefits for all involved. See our Yoga page for more details. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, reward yourself, and contribute to this amazing mission.

What We Do

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Our Story

Rise Rwanda

In 2010 Patricia O’Neill began a journey that would impact her life and many others forever.  Patricia started volunteering for a small children’s charity in a remote village in the heart of Rwanda. Little did she realise the impact this experience would have on her life and in less than six months she would set up her own charity – Enter RISE Rwanda.

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During her time in Rwanda, Patricia met three children, Cadette, Sabrine and Angelos. Patricia was uplifted by their resilience and spirit, but quickly became distressed by the poverty and lack of opportunity that they faced. Right away Patricia knew she had to act. Moreover, she wanted to ensure that the support she provided would allow the Rwandan community to become self-sufficient.

Patricia started by sponsoring Cadette, Sabrine and Angelos to attend school. Education has always been a mechanism to provide individuals with the possibility of escaping poverty by giving them access to a decent job. Today RISE Rwanda sponsors over twenty children and the fund continues to grow to reach more vulnerable children.

IMG-20170502-WA0059Nevertheless, Patricia’s work did not stop there. To make sustainable impact, Patricia recognised the importance of positive role modelling and entrepreneurship and began empowering the mothers and female guardians of these children to start their own businesses.

Funds are raised in a number of different ways to support the Rwandan community, including corporate sponsorship programs, sponsored walks/runs, and personal donations. In recent times, the charity has focused on funds that come from donation based yoga classes. A steady stream of yoga classes have developed in Ireland, the UK and North America, driven by Yoga instructors and studios that willingly step up to contribute. The central tenant of the organisation is that the founders cover all the administration costs, 100% of donations go directly to the charity meaning every penny you donate helps a child or a mother in Rwanda – breaking the cycle of poverty.

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