To improve the economic status of projects/programmes’ participants, Caritas Rwanda focuses on strengthening their financial capacity through savings and lending activities. Through VSLA groups, programmes’ participants are imparted with the necessary skills and knowledge in the selection, planning, and management of income-generating activities. In all these interventions and many others, Caritas Rwanda collaborates with specific beneficiaries whose identities and numbers are accurately documented. In addition to these, some benefit from the fruits of these interventions indirectly because they are not officially counted, called spillover effects. Those from the youth programmes, Youth For Youth (Y4Y) and Gera Ku Ntego (GKN), testify to these spillover effects.
The advantages of participating in VSLA groups are evident, as testified by Josephine Nyirangiramahoro. She is a member of the Twitezimbere Rubyiruko from the Rusizi district, Muganza sector, Gakoni cell, and Muhuta village. In 2022, she started her business of selling cassava flour with an initial capital of 50,000 Rwf. Through this business, she assisted her husband, who works as a farmer, in providing for the needs of their five children. She is so content with what she has achieved as two of their children have now graduated from high school. She has paid off the debt and her business is now equivalent to 80,000 Rwf. “My gains are significant considering the wide range of expenses they cover”, she asserts.
When asked about the advantages of having a mother who is a member of a savings and lending group, Lydie Tuyizere, 22, expresses that her family’s situation has significantly improved. Ever since her mother, Joséphine Nyirangiramahoro, joined the VSLA group, they no longer go to bed hungry. Additionally, being a part of this group has instilled in their family the significance of hard work and saving, not because of the surplus, but because of sacrifice and restraint. After her high school education, Lydie works alongside her mother in selling cassava flour, which allows her to earn a modest income and save 6000 Rwf per month in her savings group Dukorerehamwe. “I learned this from my mother,” she proudly states.
Uwizeyimana Olivier is a member of the VSLA Duterimbere in the Rusizi district, Kamembe sector, Cyangugu cell, Karangiro village. At the age of 25, Olivier, hailing from a family of 11 children, made the courageous decision to alleviate the burden on his family. Olivier not only assists his siblings with their school fees, as five of them are still pursuing their education but also shoulders the responsibility of healthcare expenses (CBHI) for his modest family, who rely on daily labour to make ends meet.
Before joining the VSLA group, Olivier had saved 500,000 Rwf as he was working with a businessman. In September 2021, he joined the DUTERIMBERERUBYIRUKO VSLA group, where he borrowed 300,000 Rwf he added to his savings to establish a shop with a value of 800,00 Rwf. He further borrowed 119,000 Rwf to expand the range of products available in his shop. He has successfully repaid all his debts, and his shop is now worth 3 million Rwf. Looking ahead, Olivier envisions building a house of 10 million Rwf. This ambitious goal serves as a testament to his unwavering hope for a brighter tomorrow.
The success stories of Oliver, Joséphine and Lydie illustrate how VSLA groups broaden the horizons of their members and foster a forward-looking mindset. One of the characteristics of development is the number of choices available to people. VSLA groups undoubtedly have the potential to offer these choices to their members, a path for their development and that of their families. As Caritas Rwanda’s mission is to help people in need and promote integral human development, there would be no better intervention than to help participants in its programmes stand on their own feet through VSLA groups.
Department of Development Director / Caritas Rwanda