Owning a house is a dream shared by many, as it offers a peaceful shelter from life's challenges. However, this dream is not easily realised, and not everyone has the privilege of inheriting a home. With Rwanda’s population growth comes an increase in accommodation demand. Statistics from the City of Kigali office indicate that the city alone needs 18,000 affordable houses every year to meet the residents’ demand. Although Rwanda’s mortgage to GDP ratio is relatively high in the region at 4.1 per cent in 2022, according to the recently published Housing Market Study of June 2023, mortgage lending is concentrated at the upper end of income pyramid, leaving a financing gap for the middle- and low-income segments of the market. The Housing Market Study full reports can be accessed at the BRD website To address this issue of affordable housing financing, the Government of Rwanda through the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) initiated the Rwanda Housing Finance Project commonly known as ‘Gira Iwawe’ (loosely translated as own your home) programme – that provides affordable mortgages to eligible households that want to own their homes. Eligibility verification is done by the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) through the established Giriwawe platform (Giriwawe (brd.rw) that has received more than 4,000 applications, verified, and approved. For instance, Alexander Ndamukunda, a beneficiary of the project, said that he is now able to focus on many other development aspirations as a youth, without worrying about the struggles of being a tenant. “I’m honored to be living in my own house, not someone else’s. I no longer have to deal with those monthly landlord visits. “This is an opportunity to own a house with ease of repayment and at an affordable interest rate different from the normal market rates. The process itself doesn’t take long, it takes less than three days for money transaction from the bank to the seller.” Ndamukunda says that this is a good opportunity for any young person who plans to have their own house without enough assets or inheritance to pay the conventional bank mortgage. The project allows households with monthly earnings not exceeding Rwf1,200,000 to borrow for a mortgage loan at an interest rate of not more than 11 per cent to buy a residential housing unit with a maximum selling price of Rwf 40 million. For households earning between Rwf1, 200,000 and Rwf1, 500,000 per month, they can borrow a mortgage loan at an interest rate of not more than 13 per cent to buy a residential housing unit with a maximum selling price of Rwf 60 million. For both categories, the loan repayment period can extend up to 20 years and above. Eligible residential housing units may be in or outside an estate. Jean De Dieu Kamurase, an employee of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), was also able to buy a house under this programme and he said he chose this because of the loan interest below the banks’ average market rate of 17 per cent. “I’m most joyful because I have a place of my own. It gives me peace of mind.” He added that the loan application wasn’t a difficult process because the partnership has established an easy way to obtain all necessary documents for clients. “It’s not a difficult process, the important thing is to have information and follow the steps throughout. There is no given age to own a house, the crucial part is planning for it,” Kamurase added. Emmanuel Ahabwe, the coordinator for the Rwanda Housing Finance Project at BRD, says that the objective of the project is “to expand access to housing finance to households and support capital market developments in Rwanda” which is being realised through the established partnerships with various financial institutions. ‘Gira Iwawe’ mortgage loan is accessed through participating financial institutions including Bank of Kigali, Bank of Africa, BPR Bank Rwanda, NCBA Bank Rwanda, Umwalimu Sacco, and Zigama CSS.