Born and raised in the Gakenke district of Rwanda, Noel Nshimiyimana and his family of eight could barely make ends meet. After finishing school at 17, Noel was admitted to a vocational training program, but he was unable to afford the school’s fees.
Noel left his hometown in search of a better life and found his first job in the town of Ruli, where for four years he earned less than $3 a month.
Tired of earning so little, Noel looked for a better opportunity and joined a mining cooperative in the local area to work as a digger. The Cooperative Miniere Kaba- bara-Gikingo (COMIKAGI) operates at mines within the iTSCi program, which ensures mineral traceability and due diligence in order to produce and trade minerals according to international expectations and laws.
Being part of iTSCi meant that Noel and others in his cooperative could continue to benefit from the natural resources of their area and access the international mineral markets. The program helped to create jobs and opportunities for artisanal miners like Noel, who began to earn around $60 per month. Soon, Noel got married and was able to start saving a large portion of his income.
After five years, Noel had enough savings to invest in opening his own mine pit, and after six months of work, minerals were finally found. Managing his own pit allowed him to become a sub-contractor of COMIKAGI, and with the help of a loan from the cooperative, he hired washers and transporters to help produce the minerals. The cooperative provides no-interest loans, so after selling the minerals from his new pit, Noel was able to pay back the loan and begin saving again.
Noel earned enough to maintain the business and buy a house. Empowered by his investment, Noel rented another pit and bought two land plots for planting crops.
Now 33, Noel estimates his earnings from his investments at $22,400.
“I’m very happy to be able to pay my children’s school fees and be responsible for the lives of more than 20 workers who depend on me,” he says. “I am now living my dream.”
He is grateful to iTSCi for believing in the value of artisanal mining and the promise it offers to people with scarce opportunities in life.
© 2016 ITRI Ltd, on behalf of the iTSCi Programme. All rights reserved. The field activities of iTSCi are implemented through Pact Inc. The programme is funded by the 3T mineral business with partial support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of ITRI Ltd.