RWANDAN NUN STUDIES ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO SUPPORT BENEBEKIRA SISTERS CONGREGATION BUSINESS & CHARITABLE ACTIVITIES

Sister Augusta, CFO of the Benebekira Sisters in Rwanda, is honing her entrepreneurial skills at Babson this summer.

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Sister Augusta of the Benebekira Sisters Congregation in Rwanda is studying entrepreneurship at Babson this summer to support the group’s business and charitable activities.

She is working with the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center, let by Ben Cox ’10, to develop two business plans: to develop a bakery to make bread for their own use, as well as to sell in the nearby city to support their school, and to refinance a dormitory so they can repair a faulty sewage system.

Sister Augusta, who serves as the group’s Chief Financial Officer, is studying with Professors Norm Govoni and Cathy Manning.

Undergraduate Dean Dennis Hanno met Sister Augusta in March during a trip to Rwanda with Babson students who were there to teach entrepreneurship to high school students. When she expressed dismay that she lacked some of the needed business skills that they had learned, Dean Hanno offered to have her audit courses this summer for free. 

“It has been an immense pleasure having Sr. Augusta with us for the summer session,” said marketing professor Norm Govoni. “She has been eager to absorb all things marketing. She has excellent command of the subject and outside class we have explored ideas she can take back to her missionary work in Rwanda where she is actively involved in the education of Rwandan youngsters. She has earned the respect and admiration of the students for her demeanor and humanitarian efforts. Each of us has been blessed to have her with us for seven weeks. The great hope is that we can forge a relationship in which Babson can play an active role helping her on many fronts, especially in finding ways to utilize her school facilities and supporting services on a year-round basis.” 

“The Babson community benefits by having this courageous woman on campus, to hear her stories of surviving the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and to understand firsthand the sacrifices some people make for a better life – for themselves and for their communities,” says Hanno. 

The Babson College-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center was established in Kigali in 2010 to focus on developing entrepreneurs throughout Rwanda. 

About the Benebikira Sisters
Founded in 1919, the Benebikira Sisters, the first indigenous religious order in Rwanda, have been helping those most in need in the region. They currently educate over 5000 students (80% of them girls) in 7 primary schools and 13 secondary schools, supervise the catechetical teaching in 3 of the 9 dioceses in Rwanda, run or work in hospitals and health centers, run 3 orphanages for 375 children of the Genocide, and staff or operate guesthouses throughout Rwanda. Following the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the order of over 350 Sisters has become vital to the effort to rebuild a nation that is still struggling to recover from the personal and structural damage that occurred over a decade ago.

A local order, The Benebikira Sisters remained in Rwanda when other orders fled. In the immediate aftermath, they acted quickly to provide hospitality to the Jesuits whose works were destroyed and took care of other convents.

Many of the Sisters also became the only living adults in their extended families and had to assume the role of parent for all of the orphans in their families. In the village of Save, they managed to shelter over 350 people in their church for two and a half months. Twenty Benebikira Sisters were killed during the Rwandan Genocide.

October 2010: The Benebikira Sisters receive Courage of Conscience Award
The Benebikira Sisters Foundation is pleased to announce that the Benebikira Sisters, a religious congregation native to Rwanda, received the notable Courage of Conscience Award presented at the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts on Sunday, September 26, 2010. The award was presented to the Sisters for their heroic and courageous activities during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and for their widespread work with orphans, widows and those affected by the Genocide. Other notable past recipients of this award have been Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Upon receiving the award, Sister Junvenal Mukamurama, former Mother General of Benebikira Sisters, told the Sisters’ story during the genocide: “During the years before the genocide and during the 100 days of horror, we were called to stand up. For us as nuns and disciples of Christ, this meant that we had to put our congregation at risk of being killed for the refusal to separate into Hutu and Tutsi and for our insistence on sheltering those seeking refuge.”


By Nancy Sullivan, sullivann@babson.edu , 781-239-4623 | 07/06/2011 06:00