Empower Hubs by Journeyman International

Social / 4th Quarter 2023

Empower Hubs by Journeyman International

by Bhawna Jaimini

December 7, 2023


Joanna Nsenga is a young architect who studied on the west coast in the United States before returning back to her home country, Rwanda, to put her architectural skills to use to improve the lives of local communities. Empower Hubs—now called Kinvest Commons—was one of the first projects she worked on after joining Journeyman International, a humanitarian architecture nonprofit, which started in the United States but has a firm presence in Rwanda.

“More than 90 per cent of the population of Rwanda is rural who are in need of economic opportunities within and around their villages,” Nsenga explained the premise of the project, which was to improve, rebuild and equip rural marketplaces with amenities and infrastructure.

The project, which started as a partnership between Kinvest Impact Foundation and Journeyman International, has now impacted more than 1,500 families across three different locations.

Nsenga attributes the success of the programme to the fact that it focused on upgrading and supporting existing spaces connected—socially or economically—to the local community. “From the beginning, we were sure that we didn’t want to buy land and build something new. We looked for places that could be given a new lease of life. And I had to design a prototype, which could be adapted to not just respond to the existing conditions, but to also meet the needs of the community.”

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Project Name
Empower Hubs

Nyagashanga cell, pilot hub
Nyenyeri cell, pilot hub
Gatebe cell, pilot hub
Nyamirama cell, Empower Hub 2.0

Completion Date
Empower Hubs Pilot, 2021
Empower Hubs 2.0, 2022

Architecture Firm
Journeyman International

Kinvest (formerly known as Empowering Villages (EV))

Empower Hubs Pilot Prototype: 123 square metres
Empower Hubs 2.0: 1,490 square metres

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