Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) Thursday launched a campaign to motivate associations to turn into cooperatives as a way of breaking their reliance on donor aid and ensuring sustainability.
A two-day international conference that was held at Kigali Serena Hotel brought together various development partners and association coordinators with an aim of discussing the role of community-based cooperatives in improving the life of vulnerable Rwandans.
“People, such as those infected by HIV/Aids, as well as the vulnerable, need to be in position to generate enough incomes. This conference will therefore help us identify a link between our development partners and government so that viable and vibrant cooperatives are formed to improve these people’s quality of life,” Vincent Rutaremera, the Director of Cooperative Development in RCA told The New Times in an interview.
Rutaremara also hailed the Community HIV/Aids Mobilisation Programme (CHAMP) and the National Aids Control Commission (CNLS) for championing this cause as it will help synergise the activities of government and development partners thus boosting incomes of the vulnerable.
“Intensive sensitisation will help us in this transformation drive as we increase capacity building and financing under the cooperative strategy. Beneficiaries will therefore be able to project their life beyond donor aid thus achievement of government strategies like Vision 2020,” Rutaremara added.
Under the theme “Practical approaches to Strengthening Rwanda’s Cooperative Sector and Developing Opportunities for People Affected by HIV/Aids and other vulnerable Groups,” participants came up with various recommendations the will help facilitate this strategy.
CHAMP will for instance continue to directly help the associations through their transition to cooperatives, supporting them in the registration process and continue to build their capacities.
“We help transform these associations into cooperatives so that they can operate more like businesses which can forge linkages to supply to the growing market,” Anne Smith, the Country Director of CHF International and Manager of CHAMP, said.
While identifying some successful cooperatives, Smith emphasised the need for partners to come together and strengthen the impact of cooperatives on livelihoods and economic development in general. Other organisations like CNLS started this transformation process in 2007.
“We believe that access to income generating opportunities helps the vulnerable to boost their meagre earnings while will prevent them from continuing to spread the virus in pursuit of survival,” Antoine Semukanya the Deputy Executive Secretary of CNLS said.
He added that this is the main reason this commission has managed to convince sex workers to join associations which are later transformed into cooperatives.
According to Semukanya, the perception towards this transformation among the vulnerable and HIV/Aids infected people, is changing but hastened to add that more sensitisation is needed to help everyone understand the underlying benefits.