I began working for Global Communities since June 2012. Before I came here I was working as the director of cooperative promotion and capacity building at RCA, the Rwanda Cooperatives Agency. My background is in local government, so before the RCA is was Vice Mayor of economic development for the district of Rusizi in Western Province.
How did you become a Vice Mayor?
It’s a political post, so I was elected by the people of the district. I ran a campaign to get elected. Once elected, I was responsible for implementing policy that related to things like agriculture, trade, and infrastructure. After that was when I began working with cooperatives at RCA. Then I wanted a change, so I came to Global Communities.
So exactly what is your role at Global Communities?
I am the EMIRGE Rwanda Program Coordinator, but I support the overall Economic Strengthening team by overseeing the development of cooperatives under both the EMIRGE and Higo Ubeho programs. Under Higo Ubeho we work with cooperatives to develop their capacity on a basic level. They get training in structure and management, business planning, basic finance skills and book keeping. Once they advance in capacity, they transition into “model cooperatives” that are then managed by EMIRGE. Then they learn more advanced professional skills such as market-based strategies and train other cooperatives in the skills that they have learned. We help to create linkages between them and local markets so that they can better meet the needs of their members. The members directly feel the benefits of that.
What does an average day look like for you?
No day is ever the same. I spend 65% of my time creating development tools for the cooperatives such as training modules and cooperative profiles. I spend the remaining 35% of my time in the field testing and implementing the tools, or supporting the training events. We do not do the training ourselves, but rely on Rwandan Partner Organizations (RPOs). We train them to do the training.
To you, what is the most interesting part of your job?
What is most interesting is when you see the impact of the program to beneficiaries. They have different backgrounds, and many of them live with HIV or are vulnerable in other ways. Overtime, it is great to see them increasing their income, gaining autonomy, meeting their basic needs, and becoming business-oriented. When you see the whole process it is very encouraging.
Where are your hopes for the future of these programs?
My wish for the future would be to see our cooperatives getting more bargaining power in the markets. That way they could negotiate contracts that would guarantee fair prices. That would mean lower costs for their members, which would increase their income. And as we’ve seen, increasing their income means greater autonomy and less vulnerability.