Care International Rwanda is targeting to empower over one million people through its Saving and Financial Investments (SAFI) project.
SAFI aims at supporting people nurture the culture of saving and use the savings as loans amongst themselves to fight poverty.
Innocent Rutikanga, the project manager Care International Rwanda, told The New Times that SAFI is part of the initiatives the government, civil society and financial institutions have put in place to promote financial inclusion and access to financial services to all Rwandans.
He said that CARE empowers the rural poor who cannot access formal financial services to save and acquire loans without interest, which help them to improve their livelihoods.
The three-year project implemented by CARE Rwanda and operating in six districts in the Eastern Province, helps people form groups through which they save and thereafter a member is entitled to seek a loan from the savings.
“Since this project started in 2009, we have reached out to 108,200, which was our target but now that we have hit it we expect one million people to have benefited by the time we wind up the project,” he said.
Rutikanga said that the project which is in its final stage of linkage is working with microfinance
institutions, banks, local and international NGOs to ensure that people access formal financial services and promote sustainability of the project after its closure next year.
“We are trying to implement the last phase of the project which is linking these beneficiaries’ groups to microfinance institutions, to access bigger loans and keep their money to improve on their investments now that they are financially educated and empowered.”
Rutikanga highlighted that the project was able to assists people to build better houses and get rid of thatched houses (Nyakatsi), take their children to school and also provide their households with basic needs which has improved the lives of the rural poor.
An expert with United Nations Capital Development Fund, Arthur Sabiti, said the initiatives put across by the government and stakeholders to achieve financial inclusion for all in Rwanda have yielded success compared to the last survey conducted in 2008 that indicated 52% of Rwandans don’t access financial services.
“We were second after Kenya in access to financial services by all in 2008 when the survey was conducted, but with these interventions, if the survey is done again Rwanda can be put at 70% which makes it the leading in East Africa,” Sabiti noted.