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More photos from the charrette

posted Jan 21, 2013, 4:27 PM by Aleeka Kay Edwards

The Community Joins in on Design Planning:

posted Jan 11, 2013, 3:12 AM by Aleeka Kay Edwards

We are excited to share news that, last night, Rwanda Village Enterprises (RVE) hosted part one of a two part evening charrette at the PIH Training Center focused on housing issues and opportunities.  For this housing portion of the charrette, we were hoping that as many as 60 people would participate but, to our surprise, we had more than double our expected participants and we turned away more than 30 people because we were at maximum capacity.  Even though we are big believers in this inclusive approach and know how well it works, the enthusiasm for the charrette process here in Rwinkwavu has far exceeded our expectations and the drawings and ideas that the participants produced are simply amazing and will be invaluable as we continue to develop this project with them and for them.  From what we have already observed, we are confident that the participants of this charrette process will design houses that are safer, healthier, and more sustainable than many other available, existing housing options in the area. Tonight, we will host the same group for a follow-up charrette so they can translate their ideas into preliminary design concept for housing. On Friday, 50 participants will gather to envision a new master plan for Rwinkwavu and help prioritize community development ideas including improved infrastructure, better access to education within Rwinkwavu, and additional opportunities for more economic activity though co-ops, market spaces, and the like that should help Rwinkwavu continue to build.  

To organize this effort, RVE has collaborated with T. Luke Young, an architect and urban planner who has facilitated this kind of community-based charrette in places like the US, Haiti, Chile, Columbia and, now, in Rwanda. Our team also includes Sam Keller and Bruce Engel, architects from Sharon Davis Design, who will interpret and integrate the community's ideas to produce a master plan for the RVE project and housing model concepts that reflect the priorities of the community and that build on this charrette process. In addition to T Luke, Sam and Bruce, we have 6 architecture students from KIST who are helping to both translate and facilitate the hands-on, community workshops. Finally, Fredrick King, a documentary film-maker is here to document the entire process so that we can share the charrette concept with others who are not familiar with it and to capture all the ideas raised by the community so we can reference them moving forward. 

All the best,
Brian Halusan
Country Director

Join the Team- RVE is Hiring !

posted Nov 16, 2012, 4:40 AM by Aleeka Kay Edwards   [ updated Nov 16, 2012, 4:55 AM ]

JOB TITLE:  Country Director

Rwanda Village Enterprises, Ltd. (RVE) is a for-profit startup company that was created to build mixed-
income, earth-friendly housing. Our goal is to demonstrate that building quality housing for low-
and moderate-income workers in East Africa can be profitable. RVE’s approach involves community
engagement, partnership with employers and government agencies, capacity building and the use of
appropriate technologies. Our model utilizes an internal cross-subsidy to ensure that a portion of our
houses are affordable to the community’s lowest wage-earners. RVE’s staff members have backgrounds
in real estate development, finance, urban planning, law and a variety of social entrepreneurial start-

Our first project — Rwinkwavu Homes — involves the development of +/- 100 new homes in a small
town in Rwanda’s Eastern Province in partnership with Sharon Davis Design (SDD), an innovative,
award-winning architecture firm ( Together RVE and SDD are researching
earth friendly building materials and methods to produce affordable housing and support Rwinkwavu
community development efforts. Rwinkwavu is home to a regional hospital as well as the national
headquarters of Partners in Health (PIH), an international health NGO. The first stage of this project is
to construct five model homes, two of which are currently under construction. Beyond addressing a
housing shortage in Rwinkwavu, we seek to develop a sustainable model for community development
that can be replicated by RVE and others elsewhere in Rwanda and the region.

In addition to undertaking the Rwinkwavu Homes project, RVE is pursuing a variety of urban planning
related consulting assignments with municipal agencies in Rwanda.

The Country Director will manage RVE’s day-to-day operations in Rwanda under the direction of
the company’s owners, who are based in the U.S. Our work is multidisciplinary, and therefore the
Country Director’s duties will be wide ranging. The following is a partial list of this position’s areas of

Rwinkwavu Homes Project
Community relations – Work with government officials and local stakeholders to build support
and good will while ensuring the project is responsive to community needs;
Site control, entitlements and permits – Work with local government to obtain the land and
approvals needed to develop future phases of the project;
Design – Oversee the design of model/master site, new house types and estimate construction
cost in partnership with Sharon Davis Design staff;
Construction management – Coordinate the work of the architect, technical consultants,
contractors, etc. and monitor the schedule, cost, and quality of work;
End buyer financing - Work with banks to help prospective homebuyers obtain home loans;
Seek out new investors and sources for development and construction financing.


Manage business operations (i.e. accounting, taxes, marketing, sales);
Property management – Collect rent, coordinate maintenance, and approve and manage capital
Participate in policy discussions in Rwanda surrounding housing, green building, urban planning
and related fields;
Hire and manage interns, property manager, construction manager;
Provide accurate and timely reporting to owners and investors.

Able to successfully coordinate a multi-faceted project;
Strong organizational skills, self-starting and self-directed work habits, detail-oriented;
Outstanding written and oral communication skills;
Work experience/university degree in one or more of the following fields: real estate
development, finance, project management, community development, urban planning, law,
construction management, engineering or architecture;
Experience living and/or working in a developing country (preferably in East Africa);
Language skills in French and/or Kinyarwanda preferred;
Interest in or familiarity with green building, poverty reduction and low-cost design solutions.

LOCATION OF POSITION: Rwinkwavu, Rwanda (some existing or prior employees have split their time
between Rwinkwavu and Kigali, the capital of Rwanda).

POSITION START DATE: January 2013 or sooner.


Please email a cover letter, resume/CV and salary requirement to
This position is open until filled.

Blog Entry from RVE's Country Director

posted Aug 24, 2012, 11:51 PM by Aleeka Kay Edwards

June 13, 2012
The mason completed plastering the interior of the house and the kitchen, which is in the annex. The shower room is being worked on today, as well.  The shower room requires a higher cement mixture to protect the walls.  The man continues to dig the latrine, as this is very difficult work.  The soil is very hard and he pours water in the hole to soften the dirt.  The hole will be about 10 meters deep.  He climbs in and out of the hole by pressing along the sides.  He does not use a ladder.
I will begin experimenting with an earth floor at the job site.  An earth floor does not require any cement, which is one of our stated goals.  The platform was prepared today and I will let it rest for a few days so the dirt compacts more.  I will then create a bed using gravel that we have on site.  Once this is compacted, I will make a mixture of clay, sand, and paper pulp or straw.  This mixture will be applied in 2-3 layers.  I will use lime in one floor and linseed oil in another floor.  This will give the floor its strength and durability.  It will need to dry for a week or so before we can test its properties.  The electrician was onsite today connecting the wiring in the junction boxes and installing the light sockets.  The conduit they use is very poor plastic as they kink it to form corners.  If the cable ever needs to be pulled out, they will need to replace much of the conduit on the ceiling.

June 14, 2012
The crew is smaller today with 7 masons, 2 electricians, 1 welder, and the latrine digger.  The mason crew has been small because I did not give the approval to begin building the water tank base.  We discussed the project today and the work should begin tomorrow.  There are two leaks in the plumbing that need to be fixed first.  
The electrician used the ground wire in one of the light sockets because we ran out of blue wire.  I caught the problem right away and asked the electrician to change.  He used the ground color wire so he could keep working.  I called Emmy to order more wire; however, Felix showed up at this time with black wire.  I would prefer to stay consistent with wire colors, but since they both represent the hot wire, I am ok with it.  The welder’s helper is here today sanding the welds down.  They are applying a bonding material to create a smooth finish and then sanding the finish.  After the windows have been sanded, they are applying a red paint.  I would prefer the metal be completely sanded to remove all rust and then painted with a metal primer before using a finish coat. This will be a change I make in the future.  

Video Coming Soon !

posted May 20, 2012, 8:29 PM by Aleeka Kay Edwards   [ updated Aug 24, 2012, 11:58 PM ]

We will post video from our Country Director Brian Halusan so you can follow his progress as he builds homes in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda. 

Update !

posted Oct 15, 2009, 8:02 AM by Benjamin Wise   [ updated Aug 25, 2012, 12:00 AM ]

 We own  approximately 1/2  a hectare plot in the Rwinkwavu Umudugudu where we intend to construct five model homes. These houses are currently being designed. Construction started in late January 2011 and were available for occupancy in spring 2011. 

Concurrently, we are working with Kayonza District officials to obtain title to additional lands located near the hospital complex and Rwinkwavu town center. If the model houses are successful, we will continue building to help meet the demand for new housing in Rwinkwavu.

How to Rent a RVE Home:

posted Oct 15, 2009, 7:59 AM by Benjamin Wise   [ updated Aug 25, 2012, 12:02 AM ]

Contact us/ Follow us on twitter @_RVE:  We are eagerly seeking feedback on our project to help ensure what we build meets your needs. In addition, the level of interest we receive will help us determine how many homes to build and what type of homes (houses for families, single people or individuals sharing a house).

Speak to your employer:  Partners in Health  is pursuing agreements with local banks to help its employees receive loans with favorable terms. The Ministry of Health could make similar arrangements with banks. By speaking with your HR department or CFO, you can find out if you qualify for low interest loans and what steps you can take to help negotiate the best terms with your bank.

Start saving: Many banks in Rwanda will only provide 70% or less of the money needed to buy a house, meaning that you must raise at least 30 % of the total cost. If you want to rent, a landlord such as RVE could require about two month's rent as a deposit before you move in.

Contact your bank: If you are considering buying and will need to take out a loan, it's important to speak with prospective mortgage lenders about their requirements. Some banks in Rwanda require you to open a Housing Savings Account and all will require special documentation from your employer. Obtaining a home loan in Rwanda is not easy, but many banks do offer mortgage products and we can help you navigate this process. Banks offering home loans in Rwanda include Banque de L'Habitat du Rwanda, CSS Zigama, Bank of Kigali and KCB. 

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