Nyabihu residents revel in the fruits of savings culture

Residents of NyabuihuDistrict have expressed commitment toward promoting savings culture after registering profits from savings groups they joined a few months.
Angel Mukaminani, Nyabihu vice mayor for economic affairs (R), awards community mobilisers in savings culture with a bicycle. (Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti)
Angel Mukaminani, Nyabihu vice mayor for economic affairs (R), awards community mobilisers in savings culture with a bicycle. (Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti)

Residents of NyabuihuDistrict have expressed commitment toward promoting savings culture after registering profits from savings groups they joined a few months.

The residents were last week revelling in the fruits of their savings efforts during activities organised as part of the district’s Savings Week.

In Nyabihu, the savings culture was conceptualised by local leaders together with Care International, a development partner, focusing on most vulnerable people in the communities.

They first targeted people in first two categories of poverty based on Ubudehe categorisation.

Residents were organised into groups commonly known as Ibimina. Each started saving Rwf200, which they shared after a certain period, and, after months of the pooling system, the residents say the effects are remarkable.

The meeting heard that the total savings has hit the Rwf200 million mark, which was deposited in local banks and Umurenge saccos.

How they do it

Marie Louise Nyiraguhirwa, a mother of five from Kabatwa Sector, said she had lived a poor life for many years until she joined savings groups few years ago.

“Before I joined saving groups I lived a deplorable life, I used to till land for my relatives to earn a living. But life has since changed,” Nyiraguhirwa said.

Nyiraguhirwa, a member of Dushyigikirane Group, said the savings groups not only impact on their lives economically, but also increase social cohesion through discussions and interactions.

Nyiraguhirwa said that although she was still not anywhere near  where she  wants to be in terms of prosperity, at least she was hopeful for a better future, especially for her children.

“I am no longer counted among the poorest and I am committed to working hard to change my life,” she added.

Nyabihu District has more than 200 saving groups.

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Nzasabimana, who has saved and upgraded from a bicycle to taxi-moto.

Jean de Dieu Nzasabimana, 27, from Bigogwe Sector, started working as a commercial cyclist using a rented bicycle.

Dreaming big

He says he started by saving between Rwf400 and Rwf500 per day.

“I worked with savings groups but later joined Umurenge Sacco. When I had saved over Rwf200,000 I  acquired a loan of Rwf1.2 million, which I used to buy  a motorcycle. I have already paid back the loan and have more than Rfw300,000 on my account,” Nzasabimana said.

“I am planning to continue saving and acquire another loan to help my wife begin an income generating scheme. We are planning to start a restaurant and I am optimistic we will manage to pay back the loan,” he added.

“These savings groups are playing a big role... the fact is that within just nine months, people who were the poorest in the communities have saved over Rwf200 million in financial institutions.”

Jeannette Caroline Nduwamariya, an official from Care International, said the organisation would continue supporting the vulnerable communities, but she urged everyone to embrace the culture of saving the little they have to insure their future prosperity.

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