A cross-section of teachers has expressed discontent over te services offered by the Rwandan Teachers’ Savings and Credit Cooperative, Umwalimu SACCO.
“I applied for a loan of RWF 1,000,000 and it took me four months to get my hands on it, yet it should normally take about two weeks,’ says Julian Uwizeyimana, a teacher at Groupe Scholaire Musenyi in Bugesera.
Uwizeyimana adds that their salaries, which are also paid through the cooperative, delay.
“We used to be paid between 25th and 27th, of the month, but for the last two months, we have been crossing into a week or so, of another month before being paid”.
Alphonse Munyaneza of Groupe Scholaire Gasaga, comments on the cooperative’s pre-requisite of at least three guarantors for loan approval as unfavourable.
“It is very difficult to get three people to confirm your honesty, especially when they are afraid of being linked with failure to pay the loan in future. Perhaps they (SACCO) should change that requirement.”
Joseph Mugire, the Communications Officer at SACCO, however, explains that the delay in issuing some loans is caused by the large number of applicants which forces the body to put into practice the first come-first served approach.
“Most of the teachers are low income earners and so regularly apply for loans. The bureaucracy comes when we sideline those who have already benefited from the loans before serving those who have not.”
“We sometimes give priority to applicants depending on how urgent their needs are. For example, reasons like clearing medical bills or paying school fees can be served before business or building projects.”
Intricacies involved beginning of the current fiscal year was the main cause of the late depositing of teachers’ salaries, according to Mugire.
“MINCOFIN had delayed to pay July’s salaries due to fact that this was the first month of the current fiscal year,” he notes.
He also explained that the need for three guarantors prior to getting a loan.
“Those people are not responsible for paying the loan but to attest to one’s honesty, which I think is easier than getting assets for security.”
Teachers also recommended Umwalimu SACCO to increase the number of its branches, especially in remote areas, to increase its services.
Umwalimu SACCO has 16 branches countrywide, and 22 mobile counters which serve places with no branches.
The teachers’ cooperative gives loans any member, on a maximum of a sum 12 times the salary.
It has over 52400 members, half of whom have benefited from the loan scheme, according to Mugire.