Many people think that saving money, and then investing it in business, is only possible when you have a big income. Yet at VisionFund Rwanda (VFR), one of the country’s biggest micro-finance companies, they prove every day that even small earners can save, provided they manage their money well.
Viviane Itangishaka has experienced that first-hand, thanks to VFR. Today, she heads the Twiteganirize savings group, which consists of 30 residents from Cyibumba village in Nyamagabe district, and she affirms she has a good life. But only five years ago, things were very different.
At the time, Itangishaka (who is now 41 years old, married and mother of 5 children), was running a small business selling fruit and clothing; while she managed to get food on the table for her family, she didn’t think saving was possible and had never set foot in a bank.
But in 2012, under the impulse of World Vision, several residents from Cyibumba created the Twiteganirize group and were put in contact with VFR, which helps poor people to improve their lives through small loans, and thus ensure a better future for their children. First they received some basic financial training to better manage the revenue from their small businesses, and then they could apply for a loan.
Itangishaka took out a loan of Rwf 200,000, which she used to expand her business selling vegetables, fruits, clothes etc. Over the years she received more credit (VFR’s condition for allocating a new loan is that the previous one has been paid back) and it turned her life around. She can now easily pay school fees for her children and health insurance for her family, and has even bough goats and a cow.
What is more, with the knowledge on financial management got from VFR, she is now helping elderly women in her church to develop themselves by creating small income-generating activities and saving money little by little.
Other members of the Twiteganirize group have fared as well as Itangishaka. Their businesses have expanded, their children are well fed and go to school, they have good sanitation and have renovated their houses and often installed solar energy systems, and they bought cattle.
Thus, with just a little help from World Vision and VFR, these Cyibumba residents who thought they were too poor to save have managed to do so, to get loans and pay them back, to lead good lives and feel that they are valuable members of the community.
Read this article and more in issue n° 79 of Hope Magazine.