Marylene’s Coffee Shop – Creating Jobs and Community Wellness

Marylene Mukabalisa is a young entrepreneur and a change-maker in her community. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management at Vatel Rwanda. Marylene owns a coffee bar and fresh juice business called MIA, which means ‘Mine’ in Spanish. She serves coffee, smoothies, ice creams and fruit. Marylene opened her business in January 2021 after taking part in programmes run by Harambee and Vatel.

“I have always wanted to serve my community and help address social issues. That’s why I thought of starting a business that contributes to the health of Rwandans.”

Marylene heard about Harambee through the Imbuto Foundation and joined the Work-Seeker Support Programme – a Harambee programme that offers young people skills to help them compete on the job market. Marylene learned about job interview preparation, personality testing and maintaining the right attitude at work. She is proud to say that these skills shaped her confidence, proactiveness, hard work, and most importantly gave her the courage to bring her passion to life.

“As a business owner and student, it was hard for me in the beginning to keep up with college and manage a business at the same time. I had no financial support at that time and I couldn’t drop either of them because I needed both to achieve my goals. So I decided to focus on my goals, stay motivated and use the little capital I had. This helped me to keep going and overcome that challenge.” 

Marylene shows us that you can start with the little you have and go on to grow a successful enterprise.

“When I started my business I had a coffee machine, small fridge for fruit and a blender. But I didn’t have a large freezer to store ice cream and so I borrowed one from another company. As my business kept growing, I managed to buy my own freezer and employed two other team members.”

Marylene wants to build a health and wellness centre to educate her community about malnutrition and ways to eradicate it. She finds that most people lack information about healthy eating and living and end up consuming foods that disrupt the body’s metabolism and might lead to health-related diseases. 

Encouraging other young people, Marylene says: “It’s important to understand that everything is a journey and not every step needs to be fast, because no one wakes up and succeeds instantly. It takes patience to achieve a goal. Learn from mistakes, take your time to learn and above all invest the little you have and grow from it. And If you are a young work-seeker, join Harambee programmes to help your job search journey.”

Marylene shows us that we can all create opportunities for work as well as solutions to the issues in our communities. 

If you’re inspired by Marylene’s story, register for Harambee’s Work Seeker Support training at 

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