Mwalimu Sacco is allowing teachers to fulfill their dreams
In the past, when one said they were going to do education as a course in university, people assumed that you would never drive a nice car or build a nice house. That is because teaching was seen as a ‘poor man’s’ profession. Today, however, thanks to Mwalimu Sacco, a teacher savings and credit cooperative, some teachers have big businesses while others are driving their dream cars.
The cooperative, which grants loans to teachers, was allowed to operate on February 22 2008, but was officially launched on September 1 the same year.
As one of the initiatives that the Government undertook to enhance teachers’ socio-economic development, Umwalimu Sacco was established through the Teacher Service Commission (TSC)
Sacco Managing Director, Joseph Museruka, says the Cooperative was partly created to enable teachers set up small income generating projects to supplement their meager regular salaries.
“The Cooperative gives a loan to a teacher according to the collateral they have put. At the beginning we used to give maximum of Rfw3m but today the ceiling has been lifted to Rfw15m,” he said.
Museruka also added that as Mwalimu Sacco has grown, so has the number of teachers joining it. “Out of the 60,000 teachers in Rwanda, 36,000 are registered members of the cooperative. And today over 34,000 have obtained loans from Sacoo,” he added.
According to the Head of Marketing and Public Relations, Joseph Mugire, there’s an aggressive marketing strategy to recruit an additional 8,000 teachers from other public and private schools. “Most teachers have shown interest in different business projects especially in livestock, agri-business, photocopying machines while others have opted for motorbikes for transport. The biggest percentage of interest is in housing”.
Mugire said that the cooperative’s management advises the teachers on their different projects with the core objective of retaining them and helping them benefit from the scheme.
Domitille Rwimo, a teacher at Ecole St Joseph in Kicukiro, has been in the teaching profession for about 32 years.
“The first loan I secured was Rwf2 million, and after servicing it, I requested for Rwf3.9m and later Rwf4.2 million. Life together with my family has improved. I managed to construct a 3- bedroom house with a kitchen. I am now renting it out at Rwf200, 000 per month”, Rwimo said.
Peter Butabika, a teacher at Kicukiro Primary School, says thanks to the cooperative he can take care of his family and the families of his relatives that passed away.
“I got a loan worth Rfw1.5m and started a small goat farm one year ago. Today, it has become big and the number of goats I have is impressive. I can take care of all my close relatives in need and still be happy,” Butabika said.
He said that although teachers love their job, when they have family issues like financial limitations, it’s very hard to let out the good teacher in you.
“Now that I am okay and financially stable and my family takes care of my businesses, I love my job more than ever. And I think since then, it has greatly improved my relationship with students,” Butabika said.
While before almost everyone dodged taking education in university, today it’s treated just like any other course.
Mutesi Allaine, who is studying education at the National University of Rwanda, says her course is quite prestigious these days. “With the success stories of teachers today, people doing other courses are also looking back at offering teaching”. She adds that, in the future, the labour force from the teaching sector will be sufficient.
Joseph Museruka says that Mwalimu Sacco has improved the lives of teachers by enabling them to start a number of businesses aside from teaching. Because of this, there has been a drop in the number of teachers leaving the education sector.
He concluded by adding that even those that stop teaching usually keep paying their debts to the cooperative. He calls this a big success.
Contact email: patrick.buchana[at]newtimes.co.rw