Teta Isibo: Rwandan-made products that mix modernity and tradition

With her brand Inzuki Designs, Teta Isibo is a Rwandan entrepreneur helping to take artisanal Rwanda-made products to the modern market.

Teta Isibo set up her own brand, Inzuki Designs, just over four years ago when she noticed that although Rwanda had many skilled artisans, most Rwandan-made products were cheap trinkets for tourists or imitations of the same things.

“I think we’ve always had artisans who are really skilled, but there has always been a link missing between the artisans and the market, the modern market,” says Isibo. “This is where designers like myself come in, because we mix whatever is trending in the modern world with traditional craftsmanship skills to make products that are originally Rwandan but also that can up to a global and modern market.” 

The word “inzuki” means bees in Kinyarwanda. It is named for the sweet but fierce muse that inspires the brand, and for the way the different artisans work together in harmony like a bee colony. 

“We wanted to create a buzz around Rwandan-made products,” says Isibo.

Inzuki products are all made in collaboration with local artisan groups: some are basket weavers, others work with beads and cow horn. 

Isibo was born in Kenya, grew up in Uganda and moved back to Rwanda in 1996. After studying at University in the UK, Isibo moved back to home to work as an urban planner and found that something was lacking in the Rwandan-made product offerings. She is now part of a new generation of Rwandan designers and entrepreneurs that are taking Rwandan-made products to the world market. Isibo was part of the Africa Is Now exhibition for Design Indaba Expo 2014.