Drive like a girl, Meet Natacha Kashirahamwe, the only woman driver in the world of the World Bank. ​

I was born in a family of three boys, and my dad taught me how to be a good driver. He always said, “if you want to do things on your own, you have to know how to drive.” My parents always encouraged me to do what my brothers did and urged me to be open-minded about work. It is now that I see the importance of having experience in driving. I now have a family of my own and two kids, aged 14 and 11.
What were you doing before you joined the World Bank?
My journey started in a garage, where I was trained in mechanics, and I was very proud to see a car well-repaired. I was a driver in several places before joining the World Bank office in Burundi in April 2020. I worked at Transvem, the Office of the United Nations in Burundi, Sogea Satom, Search for Common Ground, and GIZ. During those years, I also I had the opportunity to work out in the country on accidental roads and learned how to drive a track.
What’s your typical day like?
I wake up early in the morning at 5.30am and help my kids get ready for school. At 6.30am, we leave the house to beat the traffic. When I get to the office, I check the vehicle in detail and go to pick up the Country Manager. On my way, I am tuned into my radio for security reasons, to make sure the road is safe and traffic is manageable. Once she is in the car, we make sure all windows and doors are locked. In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, I always have sanitizer in the vehicle and ensure that we wear masks. After work, I go straight home, check my kids’ homework, and have family dinner. Once the boys are asleep, I can have a moment of relaxion. Sometimes, I watch a movie or call my parents and brothers who live outside of Burundi.
What is most fulfilling about your job?
I am really doing my dream job. I am in a respectable position because I have worked hard to prove that anybody can be a good driver. Now my efforts have paid off. Besides that, I can take care of my family.
What are you most proud of?
When I was younger, I needed to bring a car from Tanzania in the port of Dar es salaam, to Bujumbura, Burundi. The mileage from Dar es Salaam to Bujumbura is 1,600km, and the road was in poor condition at that time. Besides, it was the rainy season so the driving was going to be very challenging. My father, who has been always my driving coach, thought I couldn’t do it. He even gave me a co-pilot in case I couldn’t accomplish the whole trip. Well, it took me three days to arrive, but I did it to my father’s surprise, and at no time did I ask the co-pilot to help me!
How do you spend your free time away from work?
I am usually with my kids. Sometimes, I am looking at specifications for new vehicles. As a founding member and treasurer of the Rotary Club Inyange Bujumbura, I also spend time with my team to help those in need.
If you weren’t a driver, what would you do?
I graduated in banking and insurance. I wanted to be a banker but now I am a driver for the biggest bank. 😊
What is your advice to others?
No woman should think that she won’t be able to do some job because she is a woman. Even when I was pregnant, I was able to drive big buses. I can change a rear tire, but I still have my makeup on and clean nails. ​

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