Co-ops help deepen savings culture among Kigali’s former street vendors

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Hagenimana (left), a member of Twambutsanye Co-operative, bargains with a client. (Appolonia Uwanziga)

The government has for years been promoting co-operatives as one of the ways to encourage Rwandans to save and invest.

The campaign has seen hundreds of credit and saving groups, as well as co-operatives spring up, enabling members to improve their income and standards of living.

It was for this reason that the former Kigali street vendors operating from Nyabugogo Modern Market formed Twambutsanye Co-operative. The 30-member group brings together traders involved in selling hand bags in the market that opened mid-last year.

Jack Hagenimana, a member, says joining the group has helped him save and expand his business. The 37-year-old had worked as a street vendor for five years before he was relocated to the market last year.

Hagenimana told The New Times that the saves Rwf500 daily with the co-operative. He adds that he earns about Rwf90,000 per month from his savings and the business.

Members of the co-operative say they  heed the government’s call for Rwandans to work together in groups to improve their livelihood and transform communities.

“Though we have not yet raised a lot of money presently, we are confident that the future is bright given the support from the government,” says Hagenimana.

Marie Aime Nikuze, another member, says the co-operative has helped them increase their income, thanks to the dividends shared by the group every month.

“I now earn a total Rwf150,000 per month from savings and business,” adds Nikuze. She adds that joining the co-operative has enabled members to pay their children’s fees, which was hard previously.

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Jack Hagenimana a member of Twambutsanye cooperative

“I never had chance to go to school, so I want my children to get the best education. That’s why I am working hard to make sure they never lack school fees,” says the mother of three.

Dan Muvunyi, the co-ordinator of all trader co-operatives in Nyabugogo Modern Market, says the umbrella body supports and trains members on savings culture and enterprise management, including best business practices. The market has 39 co-operatives, each with about 30 members, according to Muvunyi.

Apollo Munanura, the director general of Rwanda Co-operative Agency, says the national agency is working to promote good leadership and governance in the co-operatives through periodic refresher training courses.

“Co-operatives are instrumental in the fight against poverty as well as strengthening the savings culture, especially among the informal sector players, which is important to ensure sustainable economic growth,” says Munanura.

There over 7,500 co-operatives in country currently.