The 2023 Homes for HOPE Award | Ezekiel and Julienne
We are excited to announce this year’s Homes for HOPE Honorees – Ezekiel Minani and Julienne Uwineza. When Ezekiel was first introduced to Urwego, HOPE’s microfinance institution in Rwanda, he and his wife Julienne and two young children lived in a small mud house with no running water or electricity. A small maize (corn) flour business couldn’t support their growing family. They dreamed of a better future but had no access to capital.
When a friend introduced Ezekiel to Urwego, he joined a trust group. This model requires group members to cross guarantee each other’s loans, building relational capital and ensuring loan repayment. Ezekiel used his first loan to invest in his small maize flour business. Soon, Julienne had also joined the trust group, and they expanded with a variety of new businesses. Over the years, the couple learned from failed ventures and started businesses that added value to their community without depending too heavily on any one sector of the economy.
Today, their legacy includes a grocery store, a general store, wholesale shops, a hardware store, and charcoal shops. They’ve invested in land and built twelve rental properties. They manage a piggery and multiple plantations. Across their household and many businesses, Ezekiel and Julienne currently employ eighteen workers and encourage each of them to save and start their own businesses.
As their businesses succeeded and grew, they built a beautiful home for their family – which now includes five biological children and an adopted child – complete with running water and electricity. Their children attend good schools, and they have been able to cover school fees for multiple youth, including a younger brother who attends university. They invest in their community and support members of their extended family. They contribute to their church. And even in the face of steep inflation, they continue to provide assistance to neighbors in need.
It is our honor to present this year’s Homes for HOPE Award to Ezekiel and Julienne, who have lifted others up as they themselves rise out of the cycle of poverty. This couple exemplifies the values of faithfulness, perseverance, honesty, and creativity that we hold dear.
“It is such a joy to be able to provide for my family and even have enough to share or give the community we live in.”