AMIR and Partners join efforts to strengthen the microfinance sector in Rwanda

AMIR is the only umbrella body for microfinance institutions in Rwanda. Established in 2007, it endeavors to support its members to become professional and sustainable.

By Minnie Karanja

Association of Microfinance institutions in Rwanda (AMIR)

AMIR is the only umbrella body for microfinance institutions in Rwanda. Established in 2007, it endeavors to support its members to become professional and sustainable. 

AMIR seeks to build a flourishing microfinance sector in Rwanda through different interventions in Advocacy and Information sharing, Research and Development, Responsible Finance, Sector Performance Monitoring and Capacity Building.

Membership

As a member based organization, AMIR currently has 318 active members consisting of Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), micro finance banks, limited companies and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) serving poor and middle class families throughout the country. Membership is open to any corporate entity recognized by law including but not limited to microfinance institutions, cooperatives, banking institutions, Non –Governmental Organizations (NGOs), insurance companies, umbrella organizations and others whose membership is deemed valuable to the association in promoting the microfinance sector in Rwanda.

AMIR supports responsible and inclusive finance in the microfinance sector through:

Representing the sector in different forums (local, regional and international), meetings, workshops and conferences

Promote self-regulation through a AMIR members Code of Conduct that includes consumer protection

Promote financial education among members and their clients, with an emphasis on children, youth and women and Increase financial Inclusion

Partnerships

To achieve its mission, AMIR has entered into partnerships with various national institutions and international and national organizations which aim to strengthen the development of the microfinance sector in Rwanda.

AMIR Awards

AMIR has for the past 3 years been awarding MFIs and SACCOs for their outstanding performance in the sector for various categories. This year, Umutanguha Finance Ltd, Letshego Rwanda Ltd, RIM Ltd and Niboye SACCO which is Umurenge SACCO were awarded in the categories of product development, staff retention, customer care and service delivery as well as strategies to reduce non performing loans respectively. The awards are geared towards enhancing efficiency and professionalism among sector players.

This year’s awards were organized as part of the microfinance week in collaboration with Germany-based Savings Foundation for International Co-operation (SBFIC). The winners received cash prizes of between Rwf500,000 and Rwf1 million, courtesy of SBFIC.

The Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) has contributed greatly in promoting development of the microfinance sector in Rwanda. MINECOFIN is involved in various efforts leading to strengthening of stakeholders in the microfinance sector, including the following:

Financial education at all levels throughout the country.

Microfinance sector coordination through financial sector working groups.

Leading investment in the microfinance sector through donor mobilization.

Monitoring implementation of the microfinance policy and implementation strategy.

Enhancing use of IT in the sector. This has been achieved by MINECOFIN working together with other stakeholders is supporting automation of SACCOs and MFIs which will enable them to be integrated into the core banking system.

Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC)

SBFIC was established in 1992 as not-for-profit, non-governmental organization by the German Savings Banks Finance Group. Since then SBFIC is supporting the financial sector development worldwide, particularly in developing countries. SBFIC is convinced that affordable access to financial services for everyone strongly contributes to the economic development of countries, and finally to poverty reduction.

SBFIC Rwanda was established in 2008, and is part of the SBFIC East Africa Regional Program. All activities in Rwanda are being carried out in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and partner organizations from the local private sector.

SBFIC together with AMIR supports a Government program to uplift the Umurenge SACCO program to the next level. The Umurenge SACCOs are supposed to be consolidated on District Level after having been computerized. The new District SACCOs will form a Cooperative Bank which again shall provide financial services to the SACCOs. SBFIC and AMIR experts develop business plans for all District SACCOs as well as for the Cooperative Bank, and will facilitate the set-up and establishment of the new institutions.

SBFIC supports AMIR (Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda) in enhancing the professionalism of the microfinance sector in Rwanda. Through AMIR we reach 493 MFIs and SACCOs in the entire country. Project activities are being carried out under the patronage of MINECOFIN and BNR.

In collaboration with Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and AMIR, SBFIC supports Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Micro-finance (RICEM). The overall project goal is: to systematize vocational training for microfinance, entrepreneurship and cooperative management, and to continuously improve the training quality while making it available to a growing number of practitioners

SBFIC provides management consultancy services, facilitates curriculum and training module development including a dual training approach with industrial attachment, supports microfinance trainings and management simulation for Micro-Entrepreneurs, among others .

Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM)

Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM) was established in 2014 as a training institution that supports cooperatives, Micro, Small and Medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) and MFIs in addressing capacity gaps at individual and institutional level.

Currently the institution is supported by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM). MINECOFIN and AMIR support RICEM through joint capacity building programmes. Other key stakeholders working closely with RICEM include National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), Private Sector Federation (PSF) and National Council of Cooperatives in Rwanda (NCCR).

RICEM attempts to promote and provide quality lifelong learning opportunities through a continuous education and training road map which is flexible to meet diverse strata of the Rwandan human capital.

RICEM has a total of 125 certified trainers in capacity building of cooperatives, microfinance institutions and SMEs development. The institution has a mandate to offer practical training and education in the following areas:

Entrepreneurship – Management of MSMEs, technical knowledge of specific occupations and industries, personnel management, governance and accountancy, among others

Cooperatives management – philosophy and advantages of cooperatives and specific regulatory requirements.

Microfinance – trainings for technicians including cashiers, loan officers, accountants, credit risk managers, auditors and personnel management

Vision of RICEM

RICEM’s vision is to be the most innovative, accessible, supportive and convenient business and technical capacity services provider for cooperatives, MSMEs and Microfinance institution in Rwanda and within the East African region.

Mission of RICEM

To provide capacity building and other business advisory services to MSMEs and MFIs through training, skills transfer, consultancy, research and technical support. 

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