Businessman traces Rwandan roots 27 years after fleeing

Sunday April 09 2023

Nsengiyunva Oscar.Photo:Moses Gahigi


Nsengiyunva Oscar profusely apologizes for not being fluent in English because he only speaks Portuguese as his official language, but we came to learn his English was not bad at all.

He is part of a delegation of businessmen and women from Mozambique who had come to Rwanda on a fact-finding mission for business opportunities the country can offer them.

He beams with a mix of pride and a sense of belonging as he tells me he is Rwandan, an identity he wears on his sleeves despite having lived more than three-quarters of his life away from the country he still calls home.

Nsengiyunva’s parents left Rwanda when he was four after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi devastated their livelihoods, relocating to Mozambique as refugees in 1996.

But his life journey between that time and now, as an established businessman at 32, is one of resilience, hard work, discipline and luck, just like the story of his home country Rwanda.

Being a firstborn of a family in a foreign country Nsengiyunva had to grow up fast and be responsible to show a good example for his young brothers. Someone offered him a gift of paying for his driving license, and at the age of 18 in 2010 he got his first job as a driver in Maputo, earning $20 per month.


After a while, Nsengiyunva was hired by another company, owned by an investor who came from Belgium-paying him $150, in the new job he was not only a driver but a salesman as well, an experience that he greatly benefited from.

“I did this job with all my heart, serving the company like it was my own, and that’s something I tell young people, give your best to that job you are doing,” he says.

This job was to expose him to the world of business, gained people skills as well as experience in sales and marketing, as he traversed different parts of the country doing his work.

After some time he made a decision that would alter the trajectory of his life. He decided to quit his job and start his own business.

“I reached a point and I felt I no longer want to remain a slave to my salary job, I had gained some business experience working for my boss”

“He didn’t want me to go, he even offered me more money but I had already decided, he then gave me his blessings”

Telling him if he worked as hard as he worked for him, he has no doubt that he would become a millionaire. Nsengiyunva had saved up to $2000, which he used to buy 3 deep freezers and that is what he used to start his frozen food selling business in Maputo.

A friend of his topped him up with around $800, which he used to buy his first stock. He started selling different types of sea foods, chicken, Turkey and other types of rare fish, buying a few boxes of those items, but as clientele grew he also increased the number of
boxes he bought from wholesalers.