The central bank licensed four Umurenge Savings and Co-operative Society (Saccos) to offer financial services similar to those offered by Microfinance Institution (MFIs), in an effort to promote financial inclusion.
The four Saccos - three from the Eastern Province and one from the Western Province - are the first to receive full operational licenses out of the 416 registered countrywide.
Jean Damascene Serugero, an Inspector at the central bank told The New Times that the licensed Saccos are allowed to operate like MFIs, which means they can take deposits, grant loans as well as offer other microfinance products.
The move is in line with the government’s effort to deepen and broaden the financial sector in order to efficiently mobilise and allocate resources to address the development needs of the economy and reduce poverty.
The objective is contained in the national savings policy, which calls for having one Sacco at each sector (Umurenge), to address challenges of financial exclusion, especially in rural areas.
Gilbert Habyarimana, the Deputy Director General at Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) said that Umurenge Sacco facilitates financial inclusion through mobilising savings, offering loans and banking services, hence improving the living standards of its members.
“...this goes hand in hand with poverty reduction among Rwandans,” he said.
Habyarimana noted that the Umurenge Sacco programme, which started its operations at the end of 2009, is facing challenges of poor infrastructure, limited electricity coverage, poor road network in rural areas as well as weakness on ownership and responsibilities among some Sacco members and local administrators.
In an effort to curb these challenges and improve the quality of services delivered by Saccos, he said that RCA embarked on training Sacco accountants, committees and their staff on book keeping, mobilise members to devise means of building their own offices.