The U.S. embassy in Kigali has awarded grants worth $50,000 (about Rwf40 million) to nine cooperatives in the country.
These grants were extended Tuesday through the U.S. Department of State Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Fund, which was established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Togo in 1964.
The Fund currently assists people in 45 African nations and is administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs with an aim to support projects that are initiated at the community level, encouraging community participation, and improving living conditions at the the community level.
Through this Fund alone, the U.S. embassy in Kigali has partnered with 171 Rwandan cooperatives and organisations since 1999.
The grants will be distributed in four different provinces of Rwanda to support this year’s selected projects which include beekeeping, shoe making, garlic cultivation, livestock rearing, sewing, and electrical coal stove making.
The projects are scheduled to start in October 2016 and be completed by September 2017 assisting 433 direct beneficiaries and 1,675 indirect beneficiaries.
The U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, and the president of each cooperative, signed the grants during a ceremony that took place at the U.S. embassy. The Director General of the Rwanda Cooperative Agency, Apollo Munanura, attended the signing ceremony.
According to Amb. Barks-Ruggles, the Fund is one way the U.S. embassy promotes economic growth in Rwanda.
“Through the Fund, the U.S. Government provides the jump-start that many of the cooperatives need in order to grow into sustainable businesses,” she said.
“I am also pleased to see that these projects will enhance the lives of over 1,600 beneficiaries; not to mention an untold number of community members. I hope that this Fund will continue promoting small business growth and economic and social development in Rwanda for the years to come,” she added.
The Fund supports small-scale projects characterised by two key elements: The first element is that the projects are devised by Rwandans, often from rural parts of the country, who have submitted an innovative and sustainable plan to address their own specific health, educational, or socio-economic needs.
Every Self-Help funded project requires a significant contribution by the beneficiaries’ local community or organisation, whether in the form of land, labour, or materials. These grants help Rwandans to help themselves, and, in turn, reward those communities or associations that have worked together to meet the needs of their people.
Pierre Celestin Niyibizi, the president of Uruyange, a garlic farming cooperative based in Musanze District, said the grant will help them to purchase more seeds, manure and tools to use in order to ensure increased production.
Jean Gaetan Nyuraho, the president of Rusamanidende, a bee farming coop based in Nyamagabe, said the fund will help them to buy modern hives, gloves, among other equipment, that will ensure their safety during honey harvesting and also increase their yields.
Jeremie Ntivuguruzwa, the president of Dukoranabuhanga, an electrical coal stove making cooperative in Muhanga, said, with the grant, they will be able to increase their production.