By the editorial staff
Like a screenplay, all her professional experiences have, in one way or another, been related to the promotion of Africa, and Rwanda in particular.
Indeed, Cynthia’s commitment to the luxury sector is rooted in her deep appreciation of Africa’s rich heritage and potential. She is committed to a paradigm shift in global perceptions, highlighting African luxury as a blend of elegance and innate craftsmanship.
Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, to Rwandan parents, Cynthia studied in the UK, completing a BA in Communications and an MA in Documentary Filmmaking before moving to Rwanda in 2014. She is serving as a civil servant at the Rwanda Development Board from 2019 to 2023. During her tenure, she has contributed to the Visit Rwanda campaign, which aims to encourage the development of a luxury tourism sector. Rwanda is now a global destination. From PSG to Arsenal and beyond, the concept no longer goes unnoticed.
From Visit Rwanda to Vanleles Diamonds
With strong results in the Visit Rwanda tourism promotion program, she moved on to Vanleles Diamonds, the world’s first fine jewellery brand founded by a woman of deep-rooted African heritage, a brand born from a profound vision and desire to share the beauty and splendor of Africa’s gemstones, skillfully translated into magnificent, refined jewellery.
She is responsible for communications and storytelling. With an unwavering commitment to the ethical sourcing of gemstones and precious metals, and an unparalleled belief in responsible mining, Vanleles is leading the way into a new era of conscious, committed luxury.
It is an approach that has undoubtedly come at the right time. Indeed, in a global luxury landscape where Africa supplies around 75% of gemstones, but is under-represented in leading jewellery brands, there was a need for a platform by and for Africa.
“It’s an opportunity,” says Cynthia. The challenge is clear: to position African luxury brands like Vanleles at the forefront, in tune with global trends while reflecting Africa’s rich cultural tapestry. In other words, to create a framework in which African luxury brands, underpinned by authenticity and craftsmanship, can resonate with an international audience, reshape global perceptions and set new standards in the luxury market.
An international reputation
Recognizing Vanleles’ support from iconic figures such as Rihanna, HRH Catherine (Princess of Wales) and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, Cynthia enthusiastically accepted the challenge of taking the brand even further. Working closely with founder Vania Leles, she combines her passion for art with her role, tactfully and subtly creating the brand’s distinctive story and philosophy.
Speaking about herself, Cynthia Butare makes it clear from the outset that creative expression isn’t just about showmanship.
“My unique journey has immersed me in the world of sensitive artists”
It’s the heartbeat and evolution of our culture. “My unique journey has immersed me in the world of artists with sensitivity. Proud to be a documentary photographer, capturing authentic moments, I also travelled the administrative corridors as a civil servant,” she said.
Always on the lookout for new challenges, Cynthia has immersed herself in personal projects in Rwanda’s cultural and creative sector. “My keen interest in art and creativity leads me to a variety of bold projects. In December 2022, I participated in ‘What Do You See’, a group exhibition at MINUBUMWE, showcasing my ‘Moulding Hands’ series. This exhibition marked Rwanda’s first contemporary art fund and celebrated the contribution of artisans,” she continued.