For 13 years, Afsa has served as the leader of her Opportunity Rwanda Trust Group located outside Kigali, Rwanda, where she lives with her husband and five children. Afsa, who once struggled to make ends meet selling sugar, rice and flour, now operates a thriving business selling colorful fabric used to craft women’s clothing. Additionally, she built and currently rents two houses, and she is building a small shop to sell her fabrics.
“Before Opportunity Rwanda came,” she said, “most women I know sold their wares by walking up and down the street. They did not own anything - they eked out enough to survive - one day at a time. Some days were not so good. The difference between a good and a bad day was simply whether or not your family had enough to eat. Today, many of us who have become Opportunity clients have much to show for our hard work. Some of us have built homes; others have purchased a motorbike or car. All of us have invested substantially into our families.Opportunity Rwanda is a ladder that raises you from one place to another - the place I am today is much better!”
Most significantly for Afsa, Opportunity Rwanda has helped her instill leadership skills among women, who are traditionally underappreciated. She strives to empower women as they learn the importance of discipline and handling money in ways that build trustworthiness and integrity. “It pleases me to know that people trust my guidance. Whenever I am chosen to lead, I am prepared because I feel confident.” According to Afsa, “Opportunity Rwanda teaches Trust Groups how to increase their income, live well in the community, care for their families and serve others. Learning these skills has not only helped me bring my business to profitability, but also improves my ability to partner with other women and community leaders."
“It’s reassuring to know that we are facing the future together”
Anitha is the mother of five children in primary school. Until two years ago, Anitha worked in a nursery in her community. When she lost her job she also lost the family’s only source of income. “I didn’t know what to do, until a friend suggested becoming a member of her Trust Group and starting my own business.”
She took out a small loan of $50 and bought some stock to open up a modest street stall selling fruit and vegetables. Anitha now buys her produce in bulk on a weekly basis, she is able to earn a $2-3 profit.
Anitha has established herself in the bustling Kimisagara marketplace. Her street stall has a prime location in a busy area. With her profits and her current loan of $270 thanks to your support, she was able to expand her produce to include maize, sorghum and groundnuts. Anitha is doing so well that she has been able to hire a young lady in her community to look after her children while she works.
Anitha greatly appreciates the friendship and community that comes with being part of the Abizeranya Trust Group. “Joining the group helped me to come out of the isolation I was feeling. I learned that I had to pick myself up and continue on with my life, that I couldn’t give up – for my children’s sake, and also for my own sake.” Anitha continues, “I love being part of this large group of courageous women. As Rwandans, we have all been through different experiences, but together we face the same challenges. We’re all women and we’re all struggling to provide an income for our families. It’s reassuring to know that we are facing the future together.”
Recently named a top-running bank by the National Bank of Rwanda, Opportunity Rwanda has achieved steady growth in all areas of outreach. Living up to its name, Banki ya Bose, or Bank for All, Opportunity Rwanda increased its savings outreach by a remarkable 40% which helped the bank double its savings portfolio over one year. The growth is attributed to the savings culture it is embedding in communities through widespread awareness campaigns and training.
Amidst a history of growth the bank has consistently maintained a high-quality portfolio. Opportunity Rwanda recently celebrated reaching the milestone of 100% Financial Sustainability which CEO Jeffrey Lee attributes to ongoing development training and mentoring for both staff and clients.
Your support has helped us develop a number of product innovations that bring even more opportunities to families trying to work themselves out of poverty.
Product innovations open doors and protect against loss. Loan officers work closely with clients to ensure they have the right services to build thriving businesses.
Training bridges a critical information gap. To achieve our vision to face poverty alleviation in a holistic way, Opportunity Rwanda delivered training to 7,000 clients, including the family pictured left, during the first half of 2012. In addition to financial inclusion with a broad range of customized product and services, the bank delivers life-changing information through its Holistic Life Improvement modules. The 60 modules cover three broad subjects including:
Business Management Modules: Plan For Better Business, Manage Your Business Finances, Increase Your Sales
Household Financial Management Modules: Using Wisdom in Saving, Plan For Better Health, Using Health Care Services
Health Management Modules: Confronting Malaria in Our Community, Preventing HIV/AIDS: It Is Our Choice, Diarrhea: Its Management and Prevention
During weekly meetings, many other important non-financial informational training sessions that promote transformation are addressed:
Thank you for all your support that helps make this possible!
Families mired in poverty are making the most of the opportunities you make possible, living their dream of having a different and better life. Because you invested in Opportunity Rwanda, we can continue to invest in people like Alphonsine Mukamuhizi as we expand deeper into rural areas like the community of Ntunga, where she lives and where the daily challenges associated with poverty hit the hardest.
In the rural village of Ntunga, members of the close-knit and aptly named “Those Who Trust Each Other” Trust Group gather together to discuss business practices and to receive training. This weekly meeting has fostered a sense of community and teamwork among the hardworking group of entrepreneurs focused on putting food on the family table and getting the children into school. Alphonsine gratefully accepted the opportunity you placed in her path – she transformed your opportunity into a new and better life. She invested her first loan of $83 to buy salt and sugar to sell and as she increased her profit she used additional loans to diversify her product line to include soap and other necessities. With a growing customer base and business mentoring and training Alphonsine was on her way to profitability. With her increased income, Alphonsine did what we witness mothers do time and again. She invested in her family. Her family began to enjoy better nutrition and a concrete slab in a home that until recently had compacted dirt floors.Today, because of the opportunities you created, the Mukamuhizi family has electricity in their home. “I am proud, I have worked hard and my family is better for it.” With Opportunity’s help, parents like Alphonsine are able to capitalize on their skills with newfound confidence, and begin to take steps up the rungs of the economic ladder, achieving tangible gains for the whole family.
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