Zigama saving scheme: Turning soldiers, public into millionaires

FOURTEEN healthy looking Frisian cows roam Robert Rwubaka Kaume’s farm, that lies in a valley opposite the military prison in Murindi.

After living the army, the institution he diligently served to a rank of a sergeant, he was demobilised.

With a salary of a sergeant, he was almost living from hand to mouth. Meaning he did not have a lot of savings, neither did he have collateral security to secure millions of francs lying in commercial banks in the country.

But he was to start a new civilian life. Meaning hook or crook, the carrier soldier was to   fend for his family. He had to plan for the future.

Luckily enough he was among thousands of security personnel in the country who have a stake in Zigama, a Savings Cooperative Society started by security forces in the country to encourage a saving culture.

It is on record. Most security personnel misuse their wages through unproductive activities as if there is no tomorrow.

The leadership in Rwanda introduced compulsory saving.

And Zigama is growing from strength to strength.

Its capital base has grown from Frw650m when the society started operations in 1999 to Frw4.6b last year.

The society’s total fixed assets have grown Frw20b as of last year. Peoples’ deposits have increased from a total Frw 6.5b to Frw14b.

To start up, Kanume was given Frw1.2m loan. He used the money to buy two cows to add on the one he had.

The demobilised soldier is now a proud owner of 14 cows that produce more than 100 litres of milk daily, he sells Frw250.

He got another Frw3m that he used for buying another piece of land that he planted pasture for his cows.   He also acquired a loan of Frw1.5m and supplemented it with his personal savings to buy a four bedroom residential house in Kanombe.

The Director General Zigama Brig Gen Geoffrey Byegeka attributed the success of Zigama to recruitment of highly skilled personnel to run the society.

 “In case you want to know why we are progressing well, it’s because we always employ qualified and skilled personnel in the area of Microfinance management. We also send our employees for further training especially in areas of ACCA and ICT,” he said.

The society also allows students from high institutions of learning to carry out their internship in Zigama.

The students always come in with new innovations and skills that really help us to improve.

Zigama’s growth is not only observed through its financial muscle, but also through introduction of other product line.

The microfinance that started by entirely offering saving and loans facilities now boasts  of much more products/services such as accounts management, debt consulting, service sensitization, ATM facility, loan security awareness and the newly introduced instant money transfer service, CSS Ntuma.

This society also serves civilians after the general assembly okayed it.

 The society has kept its interests relatively low compared to commercial banks and other microfinance institutions. Management computes the interest rates using the reducing balance method.

“Normally we charge 13.5 per cent annually but there are exceptions to this rate.

 Overdrafts carry 16 per cent p.a while for emergency loans we charge 15 per cent.

 However, despite its success and growth, zigama CSS has got challenges.

 “We have a problem with deserters who always escape with our money,” Byegeka added

He also attributed another challenge to poor repayment of loans. “Some clients deliberately don’t want to pay back the amounts disbursed in time.”


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