The teachers’ savings and credit cooperative, commonly known as Umwalimu Sacco, recorded a profit of Rwf1.4 billion in 2014. The cooperative, which was created to enhance teachers’ economic welfare, became operational in 2009.
Jean Marie Vianney Nzagahimana, the chairperson of Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, said the Sacco made the most profit compared to any other microfinance institution in the country.
“We are talking of Rwf1.4 billion in profits. Last financial year was phenomenal. We are committed to make even more by the end of this year,” Nzagahimana told journalists in Rwamagana on Sunday.
“We have mobilised all teachers in public schools to join Saccos, probably only one per cent of teachers in public schools haven’t joined. Teachers in private schools will also join with time. At least Rwf2 billion is available to lend to teachers at almost zero interest,” he added.
Nzagahimana, who also doubles as the chairperson of East Africa Microfinance Network, noted that the Sacco has managed to economically empower its members.
“It’s high time teachers said no to poverty, we are the primary source of knowledge. I don’t see why we can’t be the source of wealth too. The brains we use to teach can also be used to make us rich,” Nzagahimana said.
The cooperative has easy procedures of lending with lower interest rate of 11 per cent compared to other commercial banks whose interest rate ranges between 17 per cent and 18 per cent.
According to latest results of the impact assessment survey of the cooperative, at least 44 000 teachers of the 49,000 who are paid through Umwalimu Sacco have secured a loan from the cooperative.
Suzanne Mushimiyima, the chairperson Ngoma District Teachers’ Sacco, told The New Times that the cooperative has impacted positively on the lives of teachers.
Mushimiyima, the head teacher of Jarama Secondary School, said many teachers expressed satisfaction with the microfinance, especially its competitive interest rates.
“Teachers have high expectations and aspirations in regard to the microfinance,” she said.
“If I gave my own example, my salary was low, just Rwf40,000 per month when I was a primary school teacher. It was difficult to have credit because loans are given in relation to salary. But because Sacco gives friendly loans, I managed to up skills. I now have a degree and head a school with earnings of over Rwf200,000 per month,” she said.
SOURCE: The New Times (Rwanda)
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