Gasabo: How women established self-reliance model from saving groups 

By Alexia Bizumuremyi.

Women from Bukinanyana village, Nyagatovu Cell, Kimironko sector in Gasabo District of Kigali city who, among them were former street vendors have benefitted from Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) scheme and affirm that they became self-reliant.

These women who are in three VSLA groups started three years ago by saving from Rwf 500 and Rwf100 that is dedicated to support them socially, they have managed to share Rwf 9 million last week.

This year, the first group that started three years ago has successfully met a total of Rwf 4,630,000. The second that started two years ago collected Rwf 3,470,000 while the third that started last year collected Rwf 1,425,000 making all a total of Rwf 9,000,000.

These VSLAs were supported by a local organization dubbed ‘Joint Action for Peace and Development (JAPED).

Speaking to The Inspirer on July 20th, 2019 as they close an annual VSLA to share their savings, Joyce Abajeneza, one of women from Bukinanyana Cell in IKIREZI I-VSLA said her testimony of how she started from a small business of tailoring with one machine and became an entrepreneur with a vibrant business.

Joyce Abajeneza was awarded by JAPED for her efforts to use loans well and turn it into a significant business.

“I started tailoring with one single tailoring machine, we fortunately got a partner JAPED who intervened in teaching us how successfully we can get to the development we need through VSLAs, we then created a village saving and loan association where we can support each other, the first time they gave me a loan of Rwf50,000 that I paid it successfully, doing kitenge fashion trade, the second time they gave me Rwf150,000, I also bought women kitenge fashions, the third time they gave me Rwf 300,000, with my savings, I got a total of Rwf 500,000 and found it enough to expand my business to renting wedding clothes,”she said.

Her business capital has also risen from Rwf 500,000 to Rwf 2,000,000 and she no longer wants loans.

Abajeneza says that she can save Rwf170,000 as her net savings after paying for home basic needs.

She has a good shop of wedding clothes in Kigali City-Town and advises women to stand up, open mindset and start from little investment to prepare their future.

Women grouped in three saving associations with Authorities posing for a group photo after the event on July 20, 2019/Elias Hakizimana

Francine Muragijemariya, representative of Ikirezi cya Bukinanyana No.1,2 and3 said that being in saving groups helps women to share ideas and to improve families’ livelihoods. 

“It also helps us to tackle big problems such as supporting those who fall sick or any other issue that requires money like supporting a woman who gave birth, visiting one whose relative died, etc,” Muragijemariya noted.

Jean de Dieu Rukundo, the Bukinanyana village leader of Nyagatovu cell said that the initiative of Village Savings and Loans Associations is a good step made but there is still a long journey to go as many other women are still living in poverty.

“This is a good achievement but these are few among many other women who still have poverty issues, we believe that these ones make an example of how development is possible for all women, we will continue to support them through advocacy,” Rukundo said.

He urged women to reject fear and use their capacity to promote development of their village, cell, sector, district, Kigali city and the country in general.

Bukinanyana is one of six villages of Nyagatovu cell in Kimironko sector, Gasabo district.

Joseph Kazungu, the Executive Secretary of Nyagatovu cell reiterated that women were experiencing poverty and unemployment before the initiative and have decided to win the situation.

The challenge they face is that they still stigmatize themselves and are not using available opportunities.

“We need to continue mobilizing them about the development through working and saving. We visit them in their VSLAs quite often to see if they are improving,” Kazungu said.

Irena Musayidire, Vice president of National Women Council in Kigali city said that the VSLAs are everywhere in Kigali city to help women leave poverty. Irena Musayidire, Vice president of National Women Council in Kigali city encouraged women to work hard and turn their associations into cooperatives.

“Women are in all categories of projects, Small and Medium projects as well as big projects. Former street women vendors are now in markets and are having significant projects, what we aim as Kigali City is to support the development of women and help them leave the poverty line to the development we all need,” Musayidire noted.

Ildephonse Hitimana, the president of the board of JAPED said that this initiative of supporting village saving and loan associations is part of their mandate to promote social development in partnership with The National Women Council (NWC).

“They save from Rwf500 to Rwf1000 and the limit saving-shares are six times. We started in 2010 working with citizens in general and encouraging women savings and income generating jobs, since 2013 now, we have 548 women in this pilot project to evaluate how possible women can have financial development,”Hitimana said.

All women are in 20 saving groups in Kimironko, Bumbogo and Ndera sectors of Gasabo district. 

Leon Pierre Rusanganwa, an official from the Private Sector Federation who also supported the ideas of these women was given an award./Elias Hakizimana         
Various local authorities who supported these women in their daily activities were also awarded./Elias Hakizimana         

Jean de Dieu Rukundo, the Bukinanyana village leader was also awarded     

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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