As the morning light, welcomes a new day – so to does an ice cream shop in the heart of Rwanda.
Marlene, a young woman with a big smile, opened Unik Ice Cream, five years ago. She offers ice cream to the children and young at heart at Union Trade Center Mall on Avenue Justice in Kigali, Rwanda. Currenly, Marlene imports her ice cream from South Africa and shares this delight with many.
Her dream though is to make her own ice cream with local Rwanda fruits and flavors. Her vision is to offer avocado, cinnamon, ginger, passion fruit and pineapple flavors using milk from local dairy farms.
She smiles as she recalls when she first tried ice cream when she and her family were in exile in Burundi. She was 13 years old and she thinks she tried an Italian vanilla flavored ice cream.
Inspired by her mother, who owns a school, Marlene took the leap of faith to start her own business. To advance and grow, she is participating in a special program offered in the United States by the Institute of Economic Empowerment of Women at Northwood University, Cedar Hills, Texas.
Knowing that with a few right connections and more ‘know how’, Marlene is confident she will find an ice cream machine to send home and start the next phase of her business – homemade with local products – Rwandan ice cream.
Marlene even has a plan for when Unik Ice Cream is profitable. She wants to give back a portion of her success to the children of Rwanda.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.
Read more at Ode Magazine.