KIGALI, -The share capital of cooperatives in Rwanda has grown to Rwf12b (US$12.6 m) as of September this year, information from the cooperatives movement regulator indicates.
The cooperatives are estimated to be having 2 million members hence positioning Rwanda to create a middle-class economy.
Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) also says the number of registered cooperatives has grown, signalling that Rwandans are slowly embracing the culture of saving that may help many out of poverty.
The information from RCA shows that whereas there were 900 associations (coops) in 2005, by September this year, the number had grown to 4,000 registered cooperatives and is expected to increase with the current mobilisation.
“We discovered about 900 ghost cooperatives in 2005. Now the number of registered members has grown to between 3,500 and 4,000,” said Vincent Rutaremara, Director of Planning and Cooperative Capacity Building. He said the cooperatives are tasked to be accountable to the members who have pooled their savings to start the business.
Rutaremera’s comments come at a time when some Rwandans have been fleeced of their hard-earned savings by briefcase cooperatives. “Some of these ghost cooperatives would mobilise members’ contributions and disappear,” explained Rutaremara.
Some of the leaders of the mismanaged cooperatives have been prosecuted and government has offered to pay back the members’ deposits.
The mobilization of savings in Rwanda is expected to grow further with the current creation of village savings and credit cooperative societies (Umurenge SACCOS) in 416 villages. It is hoped that with SACCOS, many un-banked Rwandans will access financial services.
The Central Bank estimates that only 21% of the population in Rwanda access financial services. Some of the successful cooperatives in Rwanda include Banque Populaire du Rwanda, a SACCO that has acquired commercial bank status.
Others include the security forces’ Zigama that the Central Bank had proposed should be transformed into a commercial bank because of its strong financial muscle. Another growing SACCO is Goshen, currently possessing a microfinance lending institutions’ license.