Francoise Mukeshimana, a primary school teacher at Groupe Scolaire Saint Paruti, was among the first people to join Umwalimu-Sacco, a savings and credit cooperative for teachers created in 2008.
Just like any other school teacher, the resident of Kicukiro District relied on a monthly salary. In 2009, Mukeshimana decided to take an extra step and acquired a loan of Rwf3 million.
She bought a residential house and after repaying it, she applied for more Rwf8 million in 2012. With this amount, she started a poultry farm with 200 birds.
“I started with 200 chicks that multiplied to 500 within two years,” she said.
After that, Mukeshimana acquired a third loan, amounting to Rwf18 million in 2015.
She now rears more than 2000 chickens.
The poultry farmer and teacher states that within the first 12 months, she was making a monthly profit of Rwf300,000.
She was supposed to clear that loan in five years but managed to do so in three years.
With the remaining amount, she bought a commercial house, solved other family needs and saved some money.
Considering all the success she has attained through Umwalimu-Sacco, Mukeshimana said she feels her dignity has been restored.
She no longer complains about meager salary. She looks forward to keep on progressing when she still has the opportunity to access loans, and other facilities.
This, among others, shows that savings and credit can rapidly grow revenue streams and guarantee to a bright future for many.
It is in this context that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning organised a Savings week expo at Amahoro stadium in Remera, as a platform for interaction between clients and providers of financial services and products, in part, to help increase financial inclusion.
The savings expo has brought together a number of financial institutions operating in the country who are eager to meet new clients.
Under the theme, “Saving, the path to self reliance,” the Saving expo is part of the National Saving Week awareness drive that started yesterday and will run through to October 31 with the celebration of the International Saving Day.
According to the ministry, the savings rate in the country is below 15 per cent per GDP while the target is to reach at 20 per cent per GDP by 2020. The reason for more sensitisation campaigns.
“The number of people who joined the saving and credit services is still critical and that is why we have organised the savings expo. It is a way to attract people to join savings groups with the opportunity to choose from a number of financial institutions present at the expo ,” Eric Rwigamba, the director general of financial sector development at the ministry, said.
Rwigamba acknowledges challenges, such as the high interest rate, that discourages many to join such loan schemes.
He promised that there are ongoing discussions at the regional level to look into how interest rates can be reduced.
Views from expo goers
“Fear of high interest rates on saving in banks is the reason I decided to use the mobile money, though they also charge some fee while withdrawing, it is not as high as in banks,” said Justin Niyonsaba.
“I have been a client in Equity Bank for 4 years now. When I joined, the monthly interest rate for savings was low but now they have increased, which is discouraging, said Samuel Munyengabe.
“Saving is good for us because one feels secure when they have some money on their account. I only wish the interest rate could be reduced to make savings more beneficial to us, said Vanessa Niyikiza.