Historically marginalised residents of Manyagiro Sector in Gicumbi District have expressed their delight over a savings scheme, which they say has drastically improved their livelihood.
They attributed their economic development to the government which facilitated the formation of a savings scheme known as Sustainable Access Financial Services and Investments (SAFI).
The scheme was introduced with the assistance of the Anglican Church of Rwanda in the district.
Jubilant residents, who talked to The New Times, while demonstrating their achievements, said before the introduction of the scheme, their lives were marred by extreme poverty.
Most came along with domestic animals, among them sheep and goats, as proof of their feat realised through their savings.
The 26-year-old Jean Batiste Santrafrika, a father of four said: “It could take me days before getting even Rwf100.”
“I didn’t have any knowledge about saving but when I started doing so, through SAFI, my life immediately changed; I can now afford to buy any attire I want; I earn about Rwf40, 000 a month through my small pig rearing business,” he added.
Santrafrika is hoping to buy a motorcycle in the future for transport business.
Angelique Bagiramenshi, a mother of three, elatedly said she bought a lamb through her savings, adding that she can now also afford clothes for her children.
“Buying new clothes was like a dream to me but now I can afford to buy any clothes I desire. I will soon buy a cow,” she boasted.
Emmanuel Nshimiyimana, who saves Rwf1,000 per week in his group of 30 members, said through his savings, he has managed to open a retail shop that now has merchandise worth Rwf200,000.
He said he was once a street beggar.
According to SAFI’s coordinator, Pastor. Robert Mugiraneza of the Anglican Church, the programme has thus far benefited over 13,000 residents in the district, who save over Rwf96 million annually.
The programme started in December 2009.
“Each member gets a 10 percent interest after three months depending on one’s savings within the group of 30 members and they manage it themselves,” said Mugiraneza.
He added that beneficiaries have no problem to pay for the government-run community health insurance popularly known as Mutuelles de Sante.
The scheme operates in 10 mostly poverty-ridden sectors. They were given by the district authorities.
The area Executive Secretary, Theoneste Ngezahumuremyi, said the scheme has helped in solving conflicts among residents and ensured good governance within the community.
“This programmeme has created unity because when every group meets once a week, it builds harmony in the community,” he said.
He promised to provide more support to the residents through the Umurenge SACCO programme.