It will be hard and impossible to trust someone you don’t know very well while dealing with money. We are at the same level, we practice agriculture and other off farm activities at nearby, we have internal regulations, we elect group leaders ourselves, we have saving account in nearby microfinance our money is secured and we trust each other. That is the source of power for our saving group.
Said by Claudine UWAMAHORO, ABARIKUMWE Saving Group President working in Burega Sector Rulindo District/RWANDA. Saving Group mentored by DUHAMIC-ADRI/RWANDA
One of the main challenges that rural farmers in Rwanda are faced with is the decrease (or absence) of income during low-harvest periods. This occur mainly because their income is not diversified and depends almost exclusively on agricultural activities. In this context, DUHAMIC works with VSLA groups. For being effective, these groups need to be composed by members who trust each other with part of their income. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and DUHAMIC provides farmers with strategies that can help increasing trust among VSLA members.
DUHAMIC conducts a training on VSLA/ISLG/SILC methodologies that provide members with different tools for increasing or creating trust among them. Those trainings include saving methodologies which have different sessions on saving groups creation, saving group meetings, saving by-laws, saving by-goals, saving groups cycle and share outs. They also trained on CFI (Community Finance Initiative) where VSLA members learn saving, budgeting, saving goals, loans and loans management and banking services.
To create trust, DUHAMIC pays special attention to the way in which the groups are formed. Self-selection of members is important to ensure that they all know each other and evaluate their personal qualities (for example, have a reputation for integrity, honesty and reliability; have a cooperative personality; be able to repay loans on time; attend all meetings; among others). Additionally, all members should participate in the formulation of the constitution and elect (democratically) the leaders of the group. Another important practice from DUHAMIC is to have a specific seating arrangement for the VSLA meetings that allows members to see clearly what is happening and ensure that all transactions happen in order and are visible for all members.
Diversification of income through off-farming activities
For helping farmers diversify their source of income, DUHAMIC-ADRI uses GALS tools for Value Chain Development (VCD) and for identifying different off-farming activities. Some examples are livestock keeping; animal feeds selling; hairdressing; handcrafts; among other activities. The following paragraphs contain a description of the way in which some of the main GALS tools are used for this purpose.