Rwanda: U.S. $12.5 Million to Lift Hundreds Out of Poverty

By Dias Nyesiga

Thsi article originally appeared on allAfrica.com.

ejo HezaRwanda Integrated Improved Livelihoods Program (IILP) will soon inject US$ 12.5 to boost access to finance among the rural poor.

Amy Davis, chief of party of the Rwanda Integrated Improved Livelihoods Programsaid the project locally known as USAID Ejo Heza (A brighter future) aims at building the capacity of low income households to effectively identify and access appropriate financial services necessary to strengthen their enterprises. The project is a subsidiary of US President Barrack Obama's initiative of Feed the Future global project and is crafted by CHF international with funding through USAID. It is expected to bring over 75,000 poor people out of poverty in selected districts that include Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyamagabe, Nyaruguru, Nyanza Huye, Gisagara and Ngororero.

"We will assist financial service providers to develop and deliver effective products to the rural market and also facilitate linkages to access formal finance," Davis told Business Times at the project's launch late last week. 

The Rwanda Economic Update, published by the World Bank last year highlighted that Household Enterprises (HEs) are the main source of livelihood for over 30 percent of households in Rwanda. It provides nine percent primary employment of the labour force, and efforts to promote it (Household enterprises) will reduce poverty.

Davis notes that the project will enhance internal saving and loan group formation, strengthen existing ones, create another 2,000 groups and conduct certified financial education series for master trainers. Its target is to improve livelihoods and food consumption of Rwanda's poor, especially women. It will focus on maize, beans and dairy farming. To be implemented, the project will use the Household Economy Approach, a livelihoods framework that analyses the way people get access to things they need to survive and prosper. It therefore determines people's food and non food needs besides identifying appropriate means of development assistance.

Financial experts believe that the project will entice financial institutions to move to rural areas to bank the unbanked and also gear up their efforts to encourage rural folks to save. The move has seen more Microfinance Institutions craft products suitable for the rural poor. "If financial capability of an individual is built and access is strengthened, it is obvious that financial inclusion is obtained," Jessica Masse, a financial consultant said.

Rita Ngarambe, Executive Secretary of Association of Microfinance Institutions of Rwanda-AMIR, is optimistic that the project will help boost MFIs efforts to serve the rural poor, respect pricing while cultivating a savings culture. 

Jean-Pierre Munyaneza, a dealer in cereals noted efforts to boost the market chain will help promote agro business and see farmers pocketing more money from their produce. "If you help farmers to store their produce, learn how to produce for the market and understand savings, it is enough to fight poverty," he asserted.