In a move to scale up efforts to increase financial inclusion for the rural poor and end discrimination, Microfinance institutions (MFIs) have adopted the voluntary savings and loans scheme.
The methodology was first introduced by Care Rwanda to help the rural poor save and acquire loans through their group savings as they build financial credence to access bank and MFIs services.
According to the Executive Secretary of the Association of Microfinance Institutions (AMIR), Rita Ngarambe, the strategy is a result of the current intervention by government and financial institutions to ensure that rural Rwandans access financial services.
“We want to embrace voluntary saving and loans in order to facilitate the process of inclusion and linkages because, this is the right method to reach to the very poor in Rwanda” she said, adding that if the method is adopted, the rural poor would be able to acquire loans from financial institutions.
She also observed that the method would help to mitigate the risks of non performing loans within MFIs.
“In these groups, the portfolio at risk for financial institutions is protected, so you are assured of already organised and trained groups that understand how to invest the loans they have acquired.”
Bright Batamuliza the Marketing and Special project Manager at Vision Finance Company, a microfinance which has already adopted the method noted that the VSL groups reduce on the costs of training and monitoring since they are already organised and financially trained.
“Because we work in rural areas and we are always looking at productive poor, the VSL groups are always better for us. There is no collateral as they cross guarantee each other and this is to our advantage as a microfinance institution,” she said