Beneficiaries of the UNHCR Graduation Pilot project, sponsored by UNHCR and implemented by Caritas Rwanda, say that working in small savings and credit groups has helped them increase the income of the businesses they started after being funded by the project.
The project aim is to improve the self-reliance and livelihoods of 836 refugees and host communities in Nyabiheke and Kiziba refugee camps and urban refugees in Kigali by providing integrated and multi-sectoral services, including financial literacy, income-generating agriculture and livestock promotion, job creation-oriented vocational training, market linkages, and the provision of seed capital for business plan implementation.
Diane Bukebuke, a resident of Kinyinya sector in Gasabo district, explains that the Graduation Pilot project granted her $500 and she started selling vegetables and fruit in Nyabugogo market.
Diane says that before the project started, she was struggling financially; renting her house and financing her children's education was almost impossible, but now, thanks to her small business, her family gets everything they need.
Bukebuke Diane says that the fact that all the beneficiaries of the project have savings and credit groups, helps them to increase their investments in the projects they have started, and because of this, even their income increases.
Ms Diane said: "Apart from the fact that we have come together to get to know each other and visit each other in our homes, these groups help us in our development. As refugees, we were not allowed to borrow from financial institutions, but thanks to the savings groups we belong to, we can borrow money, if needed. "
Esperant King Ntakarutimana, a resident of Bumbogo sector in Gasabo district, says there is a big change in the lives of the beneficiaries since they joined the project. Emphasizing on the importance of the savings groups formed by UNHCR/Graduation Pilot, Ntakarutimana says that it has changed his life a lot.
"Now I can seek advice from the members when I have a problem and especially with the group, I don't feel alone anymore. Before, I used to spend a lot of time focusing on my personal problems, but now, with the experiences and testimonies of other members, I feel like I have found another family," says Ntakarutimana.
Marie Chantal Magnifique, a project staff from Caritas Rwanda, said that, as the project is about improving the lives of refugees in Rwanda and some of their neighbours who are in the first and second category of Ubudehe, through the trainings, they gain knowledge that will help them develop them economically.
Magnifique Marie Chantal said: "We selected them from among the most vulnerable people; for example, here in the city of Kigali, we found some who could no longer pay the rent. After training and investment, they created their own generating activities, now they are in commercial activities, others in agriculture, livestock, handicrafts and even in transport. Today, they are able to solve their personal problems. "
According to Chantal, the fact that they have savings groups has been another opportunity and a support to their project grant.
The Caritas Rwanda/UNHCR Graduation Pilot 2020 project operates in Kigali city, Kiziba and Nyabiheke camps. In Kigali city, it assists 399 beneficiaries.