Matriarch Mantras: Nathalie Bonte

When Nathalie packed up her life in Belgium and moved to Kigali with her husband and kids, she opened a door for the Universe to conspire on her behalf for opportunities that gave more out of life.

With the idea of joining the food business, they founded a restaurant called Poivre Noir, a passion project fuelled by their joint love for food. After 3 years of learning and mastership, their vision remains to support an industry that allows them to squeeze as much as possible out of life while enjoying and sharing the fruits of their labour.

Today, Nathalie works on ways to find time for herself in the midst of being a partner to her husband both in marriage and in business and raising two daughters whose livelihoods depend on her. The balance has been a lesson on cultivating a life that reflects her needs regardless of popular opinion. One afternoon, we caught up with Nathalie to talk about these experiences and more in our conversation below.

Narrated by Rita Umuliza



Can you please share something about yourself that would give a stranger context to the person you are today?

I am 34, living in Kigali since 2014 where I opened a restaurant with my husband. I am from Rwanda (my mother) and from Belgium (my father) but I really feel comfortable anywhere thanks to the fact I grew up abroad. I am very curious and I love changes.

Kanye West recently tweeted, “You have to protect your ability to create at all costs.” How do you carve out space to grow your projects while being superwoman to your daughters and partner to your husband?

I try to keep some personal time. When you are married, a mother and working with your husband, it can be difficult to keep “me time” but it is necessary. At first, you can sometimes think you are selfish but it is not. I am a better mother, wife and partner when I take some rest from all my duties. I try to take a few days alone every two months to just enjoy the silence and the solitude. Otherwise, having a tea or a lunch alone in one of my favourite spots also helps.


What practices have you changed or added to your days in light of what entrepreneurship demands?

Finishing what you begin is very very important. I was not like that before starting the journey of an entrepreneur, I was doing lot of things but gave up some before finishing. So it (entrepreneurship) asked me to change that. Also, I really try to wake up early, I am more efficient in the morning so I need my mornings to begin early. I’m also learning that asking questions is a plus. If you don’t know, try to talk to someone who does. Asking questions may help you a lot and save a lot of your time.

You share a lot about your love for food on your social platforms. What do you think the meaning of sharing food is?

I grew up in a family where inviting people to eat was a big deal. I remember my mother was cooking all day when we had guests, and when I was home, I joined her. She put a lot of love in it. For me it is the same, when I cook I do it with a lot of love. I am so happy when people can have a good moment at my table. There is a quote saying that food is love made edible. I truly believe it.

Nathalie .002

What are you giving most of your time to right now?

The restaurant that I run with my husband, my girls. I also try to figure out what will be my next project. I love the conception, the energy that it asks, the fact i can conceptualise, plan and realise something. So I will probably always have others projects to realise and it takes time. My blog is a hobby for the moment, but maybe it will get more serious but it asks for time that I have to find take.


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