Qwezi: The artsy and hip space that beat Covid blues


The Covid-19 pandemic killed many small companies but additionally gave rise to others by these modern and courageous sufficient. Maurice Shyaka, 26, is without doubt one of the latter, who selected entrepreneurship in the course of one of many world’s hardest financial instances.

And his thought was nothing extraordinary. He opted to open a bar, Qwezi Bar and Bistro in Remera, on the finish of 2020. “I was thinking of a food kiosk, a small coffee shop but definitely a space to do with food and drinks,” he explains.

The title Qwezi is derived from Ukwezi, Kinyarwanda for “moon.’’

Most bars had closed store with the lockdown, and others had been nonetheless closing because the pandemic progressed, however he nonetheless noticed a possibility.

Opening up formally in January 2021, when Covid laws had been strictly in place, means he and different bar house owners typically ran afoul of the police enforcers.

In his third month of operation, and when enterprise was starting to select, he was fined Rwf150,000 ($150) for not adhering to social distancing guidelines. The superb adopted a one-month closure as a part of the punishment.


“It is harder controlling people socialising, and we had to adhere to the law,” Shyaka stated.

With on-and-off lockdowns, Shyaka, a 2019 Finance graduate of the College of Rwanda, and a digital marketer needed to innovate. “We pushed our service though social media which worked out fine,” he explains. And added on-line orders and residential supply. “On-line providers and supply are nonetheless an enormous a part of our enterprise mannequin,” he says.

Maurice Shyaka.

Maurice Shyaka, the proprietor of Qwezi bar and bistro. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE | NMG

He invested about Rwf7,000,000 ($6,863) initially, then later pumped in Rwf4,000,000 ($3,921) saying the most important problem was paying workers even with low gross sales throughout lockdowns.

Now he has to consider scaling the enterprise.

Presently Qwezi has a brand new look. An enormous mural, Bruce Canda’s semi-abstract picture of conventional African girls dancing in an open area invitations one exterior. The inside isn’t a typical bar look. One wall includes a big mural created by Moses Izabiriza. A semi-abstract portray of the moon, with gentle and darkish juxtaposed for moody impact.

An different partitions are canvas work of Rwandan conventional royalty King Rwabusisi and Princess Emma Bakayishonga, the daughter of King Musinga.

In response to Shyaka, the area is evolving into a company networking spot and its setting and atmosphere is impressed by the Rwandan customized of night socialising beneath the moonlight, for dance and feasting.

For these searching for psychological problem, some tables are boards or the Igisoro, an historic Rwandan board sport, which is loved by each youth and the aged.

Moreover working a full bar, Qwezi serves mainstream and conventional Rwandan meals.

For Shyaka, Qwezi is greater than a bar. “We envision it as a contemporary spot beyond just food and drinks, but for belonging, socialising through both artistic events and discussions.”

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