As the 2019 ICA General Assembly comes to a close in Kigali, we explore the difference our work is making across Rwanda and how we're spreading the message of co-operation.

Self Help Group in Rwanda

Delivered in partnership with Tearfund Scotland and titled Sustainable Economic and Agricultural Development Project (SEAD), the project focuses on encouraging individuals to form self-help groups, working together and pooling resources with the ultimate goal of becoming co-operatives.

Rebuilding the co-operative way

The 1994 Rwandan genocide led to the loss of an estimated one million lives and created some 800,000 refugees, devastating the social and economic fabric of the country. Currently 90% of Rwandans are engaged in subsistence agriculture, the vast majority of whom are women, growing just enough to feed their families but not enough to engage in trade.

Rwandan Women

The project, established in 2017 and due to run until early 2022, has gender equality right at its heart, with a concerted effort to tackle the negative cultural values that exclude women from formal organisations and decision making processes.

This has seen the local authority officers identify those who would most benefit from the scheme including vulnerable women, youth and those living with disability. The project has produced some remarkable results so far including:

  • Over 1,100 self-help groups established.
  • Training delivered to over 12,900 women and 1952 men on topics including finance, management and agriculture using bespoke manuals and training methods that we developed and implemented.
  • Over 6,900 smallholder farmers  trained in sustainable farming techniques including crop management, rainwater harvesting and compost manure preparation.

People and the planet

Our training, coupled with the manual we developed, has benefited not only those who took part, but their communities too. Farmers have seen a 7% increase in their crop yields (equivalent to 165kg per farmer!) which in turn has meant their access to nutritious and affordable food has improved. 

Rwanda self help group

Financial security has also risen, with the self help groups more willing to give out loans. This has also been boosted by a much higher compliance rate when it comes to paying back the monies on time, in part due to the positive social pressure that comes from being a member. The self help groups have also agreed their own rules on penalties for delayed repayments, further strengthening their bond and building respect amongst each other.

More to come

With our Projects and Research officer Dr Amanda Benson due to visit Rwanda next month ahead of our Centenary Conference, look out for more updates from what's proving to be a truly life changing programme.

We're extremely proud of our partnership with Tearfund Scotland and the difference it's made to the lives of thousands of people across Rwanda.

Inspired by the results you've read about above? Want to help us do more? Then visit our Future Pioneers Fund page below and see how you can help us.

Our Future Pioneers Fund