The Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center was designed by a woman namely Sharon Davis, the founder of Sharon Davis Design. Sharon is an architect who measures the success of her projects by their impact on social transformation, economic empowerment and environmental compliance.
Her outstanding work has created a huge impact in Rwanda, Nepal, Kosovo and the United States. Earlier this year, her firm was named one of the 25 Best Architecture Firms in New York by Architizer.
Urugo’s workshops are uniquely designed. Their roofs are designed to harvest rainwater which is funneled to the underground cisterns through a network of pipes. A solar pump is used to propel collected water to the tank and eventually dispatch it to different parts of the facility.
By capturing rainwater and tapping into renewable energy, the center utilizes natural resources while contributing to a cleaner and healthier atmosphere. A tour of the facility feels like a presentation on the eco-friendly ethos of responsible construction.
Speaking of construction, the center was built using 450,000 clay bricks handcrafted by a Kayonza-based cooperative of women led by Angelique Mukankubana, a graduate of a training program sponsored by Women for Women International.
Traditionally, designing houses and construction in general were considered masculine tasks. This center tells a different story. What men can do, women can do better.
Located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, the Urugo Women’s Opportunity Center has created a secure, supportive environment in which vulnerable women find support, access resources and develop life-changing skills.
With support from Women for Women International, Bloomberg Philanthropies and other donors, the center runs hands-on training programs for the benefit of women from Kayonza area and beyond. Graduates of these programs were once unable to afford basic necessities in life. Today, they are entrepreneurs managing successful businesses.
Urugo means home. This urugo is a space of learning, an entrepreneurship hub, a resource for the community and a model of an environmentally conscious design.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Kayonza is sponsored by Imigongo Art Center, Silent Hill Hotel, Jambo Beach, Akagera Ihema View Campsite, Akagera Rhino Lodge and Exposure.