There is need to cultivate a savings culture among children at a tender age, experts have said.
The experts were speaking on Wednesday at the official launch of a new project dubbed ‘Iteganyirize Rubyuruko’, which intends to promote savings culture and financial services in Rutsiro and Karongi districts.
The project launch held in Rutsiro District’s Gihango Sector is part of activities to mark the International Savings Week.
The project is expected to mobilise savings among youths grouped in cooperatives, with an interest rate of 10 per cent per year.
It is expected to boost savings culture as well as financial inclusion.
“Saving can become a culture when it starts at a tender age. Children should grow knowing the importance of saving,” Augustine Ntaganda, capacity building and financial education expert at the Ministry of Finance said.
He urged residents to take advantage of several government programmes put in place to ensure financial inclusion.
From January next year, students from primary and secondary schools will get financial related lessons as part of financial literacy programme, he said.
“Now deposit and savings lessons have been included in the curriculum such that children will have savings and financial services education when they are still young, grow up knowing so that it becomes a culture,” he noted.
John Ames, chief of Party Global Communities USAID Ejo Heza Programme said two months ago since the ‘Iteganyirize Rubyuruko’ project was launched, it has mobilised 766 youth in 30 savings groups with savings totaling over Rwf1.6 million.
He said they undertook the project, which they are running in partnership with COOPEC Inkunga to enable the youth to get financial knowledge.
Claudien Nsengimana, the director of COOPEC Inkunga, a micro finance institution operating from the Western Province, urged the youth to take saving as an obligation.
She cited 15 people who started with saving Rwf500 each in 1993 and have strengthened COPEC Inkunga, with current 13,000 members.
The institution has disbursed loans worth over Rwf1.5 billion among about 4,000 members.
Rwandans using financial services stood at 72 per cent in 2012 and the government targets the number to be at least 80 per cent in 2017 and 90 per cent in 2020.
To bring financial services closer to people, the government set up Umurenge savings and credit cooperatives (USACCOs).
Currently, there are 416 USACCOs spread in the 416 sectors of the country.
Figures from the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) show that as of June 2015, USACCOs had over 2,040 members and had provided over Rwf68 billion in loans to about 167,000 members.
Ntaganda urged residents to continue to work with financial institutions as a way to speed up development.
Vincent Yamfashije, 15, from Gihango Sector, Rutsiro District, one of the youth beneficiaries of the savings project, said he has started to realize benefits of saving.
“I started saving Rwf200 and I have managed to buy a Rwf20,000 goat after saving,” he said.
This year’s savings week is marked under the theme “Let’s make savings a culture.”