Contributed by Bill Reinecke (CRS international development fellow), Muriel Byukusenge (CRS economic strengthening officer in Rwanda) and Vanson Ngarambe (SILC supervisor, Caritas Kibungo)
March 26, 2015
Most Rwandans are smallholder farmers, and so was Theopiste Ndikubwayo. In the Eastern Province of Rwanda, he grew bananas, beans, sorghum and potatoes, but his income wasn’t enough to provide sufficient health insurance, medicine and nutritious food to his wife and three children. In spite of these hardships, he took time to volunteer as the president of a church committee and was recognized as a leader in his community.
When CRS approached the local diocese to recruit field agents for a Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) project, the parish priest recommended Theopiste. Twelve months after starting his training to become a SILC Private Service Provider (PSP)—a fee-for-service agent who provides ongoing support to savings groups without additional donor subsidies—Theopiste received his certification.
He immediately began to get paid by SILC groups for his services. Initially he was able to net about US$85 per month. He invested his early savings in a small shop and hired laborers to increase his crop production. Theopiste could see that his hard work was paying dividends. He attributes his success to his growing experience in “saving money on a regular basis and strategically taking out loans to invest in productive business activities.”
Now in his midthirties, Theopiste has started 47 SILC groups and leveraged the money he earned as a PSP to install electricity in his house and start a small banana-beer business, making life much better than it was before SILC-PSP came to the community. To improve his family’s quality of life, Theopiste plans to take out a loan worth nearly US$2,000 from a local savings and credit cooperative and use the profit from his SILC-PSP work as collateral to start a moto-taxi business.
Theopiste says that SILC taught him the skills and provides him with the opportunity to take out loans that have grown his income. He appreciates most his role as Private Service Provider because he enjoys teaching others about personal finance and helping them improve their lives with SILC as much as he has improved his own.
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