In seeking to empower the vulnerable, and offer them the dignity of helping themselves out of poverty, African Enterprise Rwanda has successfully adopted the Self Help Group (SHG) approach. This well-recognised development tool, known to have compounding benefits, has been adapted for use amongst vulnerable Rwandan communities, and women in particular.
The SHG approach involves linking with local community leaders in order to facilitate the formation of groups. Capacity building is followed by training in various areas, such as agriculture, household and small business finance, nutrition, sexual health, as well as gender and children’s rights issues. SHGs also encourage the growth and diversification of income sources, and facilitate the pooling of personal finances in order to secure microloans.
For example, one SHG, a group of 20 mothers, started a simple savings scheme where each member contributed 25 cents per month. Within 2 years, their savings had accumulated to $900, and they were able to acquire a simple loan, equivalent to $ 4516. With this loan, the group has been able to start a fruit farming business. Their current yield has enabled them, not only to service the loan, but to enjoy great improvements in their individual livelihoods.
Upon a recent visit to Rwanda’s Twiyubake (“Let’s Build Ourselves”) Program, of which AE is a partner, Rwandan Prime Minister Édouard Ngirente expressed his appreciation for the significant benefits children are reaping from the program. He noted that, as women are empowered with farming skills, they are enabled to support their families and provide nutritious food for their children.
In Rwanda, SHGs have proven to provide a solid foundation for the delivery of a diverse range of programs. Their tremendous potential was recognised by senior leadership at AE’s recent International Council, held in November last year. The SHG approach has thus been outlined as AE’s primary strategic approach for our social action programs, not only in Rwanda, but also across Africa.
Our goal is to impact, both directly and indirectly, a total of 650 000 people through our SHG programs. In order to achieve this, 10 of our social action officers, who are at the forefront of our development programs in the various countries in which we work, will be attending training on the SHG approach in Kigali during the month of March.
Find out more about African Enterprise via https://africanenterprise.com.au
Ben Campbell is the CEO Africa Enterprise and Laura Bennett is a contributor for African Enterprise and radio host at Hope 103.2 based in Sydney.