The government is currently studying ways through which to streamline operations of Umurenge Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Umurenge SACCOs) —an initiative aimed at increasing the level of financial inclusion among Rwandans.
This was revealed by Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Minister of Local Government.
Umurenge SACCOs were introduced in 2008 to propel savings and drive lending among ordinary Rwandans to enhance their livelihoods.
The initiative was also introduced as a response to urban centric commercial banks, which were shying away from lending to the rural folks.
It is through the SACCOs that all Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) funds are channelled.
The VUP Umurenge social protection program aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2020 through three various elements, namely; public works, credit packages and direct supports.
At the just concluded 16th national dialogue—Umushyikirano, one Karengera, a participant from Nyaruguru, complained that the Umurenge SACCOs charge an interest rate of 11 per cent, which they consider to be very high, given that the money largely comes from government.
Even as some government officials tried to explain the rationale behind that interest rate, President Paul Kagame was unconvinced, prompting him to call for a special session to re-explain concerns raised over social protection programmes with focus on VUP-SACCO loans and other social protection programmes.
It was established during the second day of Umushyikirano that Umurenge SACCO interest rates were higher because some beneficiaries had abandoned the programme, which undermined poverty eradication efforts in rural areas.
During yesterday’s post Umushyikirano press briefing, Shyaka said that: “We can’t specify on the timeline but we are certain this issue will be solved once and for all. But first there’s need to understand the genesis of this interest fee and then we shall base on that to take necessary measures.”
His comments were echoed by Marie Solange Kayisire, the Minister in charge of Cabinet Affairs as she outlined 10 resolutions which were adopted during Umushyikirano.
The first two centred on streamlining of Umurenge-Sacco programme.
“On the issue of Saccos, the central bank and other stakeholders will review every component and we will give updates gradually as we move along,” she said.
The third resolution was also related to a relatively similar topic of making VUP Umurenge social protection programme open for even the first and second categories of the social stratification program (ubudehe) can access these funds through public works.
“From the experience, we have seen that with VUP interventions many poor people have dramatically been transformed millions of Rwandans. That’s why the second category needs to be pushed up to another stage of development,” Shyaka said.
Other resolutions focused on expediting Ejo-Heza savings scheme, fighting malnutrition, promoting made in Rwanda brand, streamlining commodity prices, improving the quality of education, promoting Rwandan values among young people as well as preserving Genocide facts for future generations and supporting survivors, among others.