Women who are grouped in cooperatives from Eastern Province have backed Government policy on cooperatives, saying it has improved their business and standard of living.
The women were part of a cohort that was taking part in a five day training aimed at strengthening their cooperatives and boost ing their incomes.
“Cooperatives have helped us to access markets that we would never have reached on our own. Since we joined hands, we have fresh ideas and physical addresses,” said Jeannette Mucurira of Ikerekezo Kiza cooperative.
Established two years ago in Matimba Sector, Nyagatare District, the cooperative produces and distributes juice and foodstuff.
Women cooperatives have discovered that they have the ability to do businesses that were once dominated by men.
“We had been seeing ourselves as weak people, afraid of some types of jobs that we thought belonged to stronger people,” Mucurira, whose cooperative is engaged in cross border trade, said.
They started out as a small cooperative but have since transformed into a mini factory.
Bonifrida Mukantwari, from Ineza ku Murimo cooperative thanked the Government for connecting them to Business Development Fund (BDF), a Government backed entity which was established to increase access to finance for small and medium enterprises.
She said that BDF gave them Rwf5 million partly as a grant and loan.
“We have already paid it back and we hope that they will give us more money,” she said.
Solange Kayitesi, from Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA), said women should not be left behind in development.
“Development is not achievable if women are not developed, a woman is a heart of the family, when she is financially developed she does not forget about the children, and the household progresses together. Kayitesi pointed out that poor leadership and financial mismanagement are the leading obstacles to many cooperatives’ progress.