Before 2014, Jeannette Batekereze was trying to earn a living by selling local beverages at her house, but it wasn’t easy. Married with six children and with two other dependents in her care, she hardly managed to get food on the table of her home in Rebero village in Gatsibo district.
But three years ago, things changed when she got to know VisionFund Rwanda, one of the country’s biggest micro-finance companies which gives small loans to poor people to improve their lives and ensure a better future for their children.
Batekereze and six other women formed the Mpozanguhoze group in 2014 to be able to work with VisionFund Rwanda, with the aim of becoming less dependent on their husbands. Looking back on it today, she thinks it was the best decision of her life.
Starting with an initial loan of Rwf 100,000, Batekereze slowly managed to increase her profits and expand her business. Now in her seventh loan cycle with VFR (she fully paid back the previous six, as reimbursement is a prerequisite to apply for a new loan), her life has been completely transformed. She has bought goats and pigs, and sells her beverages in the market; as a result, she is able to buy enough food for her children and pay their school fees, and has even started to renovate her house.
The loans from VisionFund Rwanda had an equally big impact on the other founding members of Mpozanguhoze, and it wasn’t long before others wanted to join the group. Today, there are 24 members and 99 children. They are involved in different kinds of business such as growing sorghum and Irish potatoes, rearing goats, selling clothes and beverages,...
Thanks to the loans from VisionFund Rwanda, members have been able to buy plots of land, acquire sewing machines, renovate their houses and connect them to electricity so that their children can do their homework in the living room and no longer in the kitchen as was the case when they used candles or kerosene to light the house. The leader of Mpozanguhoze was even able to pay for computer classes for her husband, who now has obtained his certificate.
What is remarkable about this group, however, is that they also want to share their good fortune with others. That is why among the new members there are many youth, recruited by the group’s founders to teach them how to do business instead of wasting their lives with alcohol and drugs.
They also have taken orphans and children from extremely poor families under their wings, which they brought together in a group called Ihoreremwana (Don’t Cry Child). Every six months, the members of Mpozanguhoze visit these children to see how they are doing and pay for whatever is needed, including their school fees.
Thus, VisionFund Rwanda’s small loans haven’t just helped the Mpozanguhoze group, but through them also even more disadvantaged children. Which is exactly the spirit in which the fund was created.
Read this article and more in issue n° 76 of Hope Magazine.