Love is an expensive business and nothing proves it better than Valentine’s Day. The day is now heavily commercialised and laden with expectation.
Yet not long ago Valentine’s Day meant buying a card. Not anymore.
Valentine’s Day traditionally consists of couples going out on special dates. It also involves a lot of gifting be it husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends or fiancées.
Some gifts range from floral arrangements and cards to chocolates, teddy bears and even engagement rings. It is a day people take time to show love for the special someone in their lives.
With Valentine’s Day approaching on Thursday however, there are many businesses throughout Rwanda offering specials to promote their brands ahead of Valentine’s day. An influx of customers, are expected to go all-out for their dates.
As expected, business-minded people look for entrepreneurship opportunities to make money. For florists, jewellers, restaurateurs and gift shops, Valentine’s Day is, after Christmas, the most lucrative moment of the year.
Dede Murasa, one of the founders of Anthurium Décor and Design says that the inspiration to deliver gifts came from the struggle that Rwandans had in searching for gifts for their lovers.
Apostle Alice Mignonne with her husband Eric Kabera at a couples’ dinner on Valentine’s Day last year. Courtesy.
Together with her colleagues they saw an opportunity to offer a wide range of gifts, something that would save time as, most of the people buy Valentine’s gifts at the last minute.
“They often say that love is a gift and giving a gift on that day is something unique that really commemorates the relationship with your loved one. It captures the two of you at this unique time in your relationship in a way that you will both cherish forever and you can enjoy for years to come. The memories will take you back to that time and remind you of just how special it was then and how it continues to be special now.
For me, couples should celebrate everyday… but because this is not possible. Let us celebrate at least once in a year. It is worth the celebration,” she says
Exactly how much do Rwandan consumers spend on Valentine’s Day varies, as Murasa says that on Valentine’s Day, Rwandans tend to be choosy, as some want a quality gift for affordable prices while others are willing to pay more for a bigger quality of gift.
Karen Bugingo, an entrepreneur who deals in jewellery says that even though she began her business after Valentine’s Day and is unsure of what to expect, the day is the perfect time to make sales as jewellery is one of the ideal gifts that people buy on Valentine’s Day.
She is planning a Valentine’s Day sales, where there will be discounts for her jewellery. The same business technique, she says, she used during the festive season and “it was very rewarding.”
Furthermore, competition from the online companies is growing; in less than 10 years, internet-based businesses have captured a percentage of the Valentine’s Day market which, in turn is expanding the market and stretching the concept of romance.
Yvette Uwimpaye, founder of Murukali, an online shop, says that with the advent of technology, online shopping has been by far, the best option for purchases given the amount of time saved.
Murukali has a wide range of Valentine’s Day packages, ranging from flower bouquets, romantic gift baskets, as well as vegetable and fruit baskets.
She however says that the most popular gift given on Valentine’s Day is floral arrangements, and with this, she is preparing for the big rush.
“We have already received around 12 paid orders to deliver on Valentine’s Day from people living abroad to their loved ones in Rwanda. We therefore have to give the best services,” she says.
She adds that the trend with online shopping is on the rise as Rwandans are beginning to appreciate the convenience that comes with it.
“In the past years, people used to go to town to buy flowers to send to their loved ones, which can be a hectic process especially for busy professionals,” she says.
Melvin Ayebare does not believe that the day is worth celebrating as it comes with unrealistic expectations and encourages lovers to spend money that they don’t have on gifts that their loved ones don’t really need.
“Why wait for the day to celebrate love? That is why there is a huge burden and stress that comes with the day, and somehow the gender roles are misunderstood, as most women tend to expect too much from the men while they give too little, which is different from all the other occasions,” he says.
For Marian Ingabire, an accountant, Valentine’s Day, just like Christmas and Easter has in the recent years become just another commercial celebration, and has as a result lost meaning. The day she believes, was originally for lovers of any class but it is no longer the class.
You can set the right mood for the day without necessarily spending a lot. Net photo.
To me, it seems the prices of traditional Valentine’s Day gifts like flowers tend to hike up around this time. This has brought competition among young people who look out for the most extravagant gift and share on their social media, which I deem as unnecessary pressure put on a relationship.
This also brings depression on the single young people as it’s a reminder that they have no one to celebrate with, she says.
Slice &Cakes, a cakes store, has also prepared hampers on the online shop for the day, ranging from red velvet and chocolate cakes, cupcakes, flowers and wines.
Janet Gasatura, the proprietor acknowledges that Rwandans are big on Valentines celebrations, which is why her expectations for the day are high.
She is of the view that the day is worth celebrating as “life is too short and so creating memories that last is priceless.”
She advises other entrepreneurs who want to make the most out of the day, to make good use of social media as it is the easiest way to let their clients know what’s in store for them.
Away from the gifts, many other businesspeople in the entertainment industry, also want to make the most of the day’s evening with many entertainment shows lined up already.
The activities include Silent Disco, and comedy from renowned Nigerian actors and comedians Aki and Pawpaw, alongside local comedians as well as Valentine’s Day dinners, arranged by various restaurants around Kigali.