Burundi : Thérèse, a mother and widow, launches her restaurant "The Umbrella "

  • Thérèse stands in front of the second restaurant she opened in November 2016 thanks to her business acumen and our financing program. She is one of the 288 widows who had lost their source of income.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • Thérèse makes a final touch to the breakfast which she will serve to the customers of her restaurant “The Umbrella”. She begins cooking the food at 4:30 am.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • Thérèse’s youngest daughter enjoys the first plate of beans and rice. Thérèse has been able to feed her five children, her landlady and her neighbors since she opened her restaurant in November 2016.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • People helping Thérèse to set up the restaurant, an open space about fifty meters from her home.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Dieudonne Hakizimana
  • Every morning, a bicycle taxi driver helps Thérèse carry the heavy pots of steaming hot beans and potatoes.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • Her guests are mainly bike taxi drivers from the small neighboring bike station. They wait for their breakfast before riding their bicycles in the streets of Bujumbura with their clients. Placing her restaurant next to the bicycle station ensures daily attendance of clients..
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • The first pot is rapidly emptied while many more customers queue for Therese's famous plate. Every morning she also announces what she will cook the next day.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • With ICRC’s 200’000 BIF (about 120 USD) cash fund for her restaurant project, Thérèse also invested in a table and two benches to welcome her clients. Opening her own restaurant was her dream since she lost the first restaurant she was running with her husband.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • Since Thérèse opened "The Umbrella", other women also benefit by selling avocados and other fruits to accompany the dish. As the plates empty, chores, accounting and clearing up begin. In a few hours, for the lunch break, Thérèse will serve other clients at her second restaurant in the market, where she works with other women in precarious situations.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
  • After a busy day, Thérèse rests a little, then goes to the market to prepare for the next day. Since she has been able to make some savings for her kids educational and medical needs, she sleeps more peacefully. Thérèse's story is an inspiration to those who have not had the same success with their projects, but who’s precarious situation has started to improve thanks to the financial aid.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Vanessa Sharp
10 March 2017

Nearly 300 women heads of household were selected in Bujumbura to participate in our financing program called "Conditional Cash". This project allows women who have lost their source of income and have dependent children to start an economic activity. Once their projects were accepted, these women received a 120 USD grant in cash.

Among them is Thérèse, who is successfully running her new business. She opened her restaurant "The Umbrella" at the end of 2016. Today she can feed her children three times a day and even makes some savings to buy school supplies and medicine.

Subscribe to the ICRC newsletter