How Genocide survivors joined forces to beat poverty trap

A group of 10 vulnerable female Genocide survivors are optimistic of their future thanks to support from Genocide Survivors Fund (FARG) that helped them to create a credit and saving association.

The women, who were granted Rwf800,000 in 2013, live in Biryogo Cell of Nyarugenge District.

Today, besides having solved many financial issues ranging from daily food, renovating their own houses and paying school fees for their children , their capital has increased to over Rwf3 million.

Despite the meagre capital, they chose small business of selling sardines in Biryogo market. But after two years created a savings and credit association, called “Icyizere/Biryogo”.

But the capital could not cover stall fees that had drastically increased in Biryogo market, according to Annonciata Ugiranase, the accountant of the group

“We were selected as Genocide survivors because we had not received any other support such as education for our children, shelter and others. Therefore, we were given that support to start income generating activities. We were 11 women but one of us passed way,” she said.

The women were trained on financial literacy and opened an account in Umurenge SACCO.

“We all decided to form a savings and credit association because the capital was too small to rent stalls in markets. The new model has helped us a lot whereby a member gets a loan of a certain amount from the association and pays back after four months with 10 per cent interest,” she said.

“If a member delays to pay, they are fined. If they take Rwf200,000 and delay to pay, we charge Rwf20,000 interest and an additional Rwf5,000 in fine, she revealed.

Ugiranase said that the model has helped members solve many financial issues in their families.

Jacqueline Mukasine, one of the members and secretary of the cooperative, said they seek to increase their equity from the current Rwf3 million so that they start investing in major ventures as a group.

The association also created a social fund that supports members when they have wedding ceremonies or funeral services among other social issues.

According to Emmanuel Munyangondo, the Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at FARG, since 1998, Rwf9.4 billion in support was given to 53,876 vulnerable Genocide survivors so they can carry out small income generating projects to ensure self-reliance.

“Among those who were supported are 7,510 Genocide survivors who benefitted from the Girinka programme,” he said, adding that they also provided direct support worth Rwf19.5 billion.

He said that apart from the achievements under direct support, other beneficiaries were assisted through the One Dollar Campaign (143 beneficiaries) and 166 Incike (hostels for elderly genocide survivors).

It has also constructed 28,558 houses and rehabilitated 4,714 of them, spending Rwf28.1 billion and Rwf21.billion, respectively.