Rwandans have been urged to embrace cooperatives to help improve their lives.
Francois Kanimba, the Minister for Trade and Industry, made the appeal, yesterday, while addressing journalists about the International Day of Cooperatives that Rwanda will be marking for the eleventh time today.
The event will be held in Kigali.
Activities to be carried out during the celebration include showcasing the contribution of cooperatives in the development of the country.
The news conference was also attended by officials from the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) and National Cooperative Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR).
Kanimba said cooperatives have been crucial in getting people out of poverty.
“Cooperatives contribute greatly in economic empowerment of the country. They help create jobs for the people. Their contribution toward achieving the development goals, such as poverty reduction, is paramount. You can’t fight poverty without saving. Through cooperatives, people are encouraged to embrace the savings culture,” he said.
Kanimba said the celebration offers an opportunity to examine the performance of cooperatives, and how to address challenges faced.
The minister cited mismanagement of leaders who embezzle money among the main challenges facing cooperatives.
Umwalimu SACCO was cited among the major cooperatives improving lives of people and mobilising significant savings.
Augustin Katabarwa, the chairman of the National Cooperative Confederation of Rwanda (NCCR), echoed Kanimba’s sentiments, saying cooperatives accelerate the national development.
Our purpose is to have all people join cooperatives to share experiences and benefits, among others, he said.
He added that coops make youth to stand up and work, adding that they aim to create more cooperatives to ease the performance of small business operators.
In Rwanda, there are 7,789 cooperatives, 130 unions, 14 federations, and 448 saving sand credit cooperatives.
As part of the celebrations, there will be awareness campaigns on cooperatives, a visit to a youth cooperative dubbed Abahuza in Kicukiro, and cooperative Day walk from Kicukiro centre to Classic Hotel, where the day will be observed.
Best cooperative performers will also be rewarded.
The International Cooperative Day was inaugurated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1995.