Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) has signed a partnership with Umwalimu SACCO under the ‘Gira Iwawe’ project which is expected to give educators access to a greater selection of financing solutions to meet their requirements and budgets, as well as a streamlined and quick mortgage application process with low-interest rates, long repayment time, and low fees. ‘Gira Iwawe’ is a housing finance project that provides affordable mortgages to individuals over 18 and families that want to own their own homes. The partnership worth Rwf 20 bn was officially signed on Monday, March 13 at BRD headquarters and is expected to benefit 1,900 teachers. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Pitchette Kampeta Sayinzoga, CEO of BRD, said this is in line with the government’s agenda to assure teachers’ well-being, adding that ‘Giriwawe’ is a project of the government and the World Bank. Kampeta emphasised that this is just the beginning and BRD will always be there to support teachers’ development in general. Regarding the timeline of the partnership, she said, “The partnership is here to stay as long as teachers need BRD’s intervention,” she said adding, “We are here to address the development needs of the country, and teachers are the primary market for us because that we know the impact they have on social economic development.” Chairman of the Board of Directors of Umwalimu SACCO, Gaspard Hakizimana, commended BRD for the partnership saying that this will help a great number of teachers own houses. On her part, the director general of Umwalimu, Laurence Uwambaje, noted that the Gira Iwawe-Umwalimu partnership comes at the right time. “The cooperative and its partners were devising strategies to ensure affordable mortgage loans to its members, especially teachers, by offering the lowest interest rate and longer repayment period to suit members’ specific needs and budgets,” she said. Uwambaje pointed out that they used to provide mortgage loans to cooperative members with a 12-year maximum repayment period and an 11 per cent interest rate depending on the requested amount. “With ‘Gira Iwawe’ project, we will be able to increase the maximum repayment period from 12 years to over 15 years, and it will be given at a rate of 11 per cent, hence being less costly and providing affordable instalments to members,” she added. Furthermore, Uwambaje said that Umwalimu Sacco has branches countrywide and they are confident that this partnership will serve as a significant step in providing Rwandan educators with the best possible mortgage loan for decent shelter. Umwalimu will join five other commercial banks in offering ‘Gira Iwawe’ mortgage loans to their customers, including Bank of Kigali, Bank of Africa, BPR, NCBA Bank Rwanda Plc, and Zigama CSS.