Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate our values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of Sixbert, this year’s runner up for savings group programs!
Living on just $60 each month, Sixbert Nteziryayo struggled to afford rent and other basic needs for his family. After getting behind and missing several rent payments in a row, Sixbert, his wife, and their seven children were evicted from their home. Needing to provide shelter for his family, Sixbert faced the challenge of finding a new way to generate income.
After his family moved in temporarily with a friend, Sixbert joined a savings group through his local church. The group was named Twitezimbere (“Development in Unison”), and the members began saving $1.25 each week. With his savings and first few small loans from the savings group, Sixbert was able to make payments on rent and basic necessities for his family. He then developed a business starting with two piglets, and over seven years it has advanced to include 200 pigs and a number of cows, goats, sheep, hens, and even a pond for fishing. Sixbert’s business has expanded to not only sell to his community but also to those outside his district.
The Twitezimbere savings group now saves double what it saved at its start, and Sixbert continues to remain in the group to help and encourage others who have been there for him. Meeting with group members, Sixbert no longer feels like an outcast but part of a caring family. And this inspires Sixbert. He says that he enjoys “giving a pig to the neighbors to help each of them move out of poverty.”
Sixbert continues venturing into new entrepreneurial endeavors. He is currently the only person in his district practicing fish farming and hopes to grow apples and build a more modern piggery. Through his businesses, Sixbert has six full-time employees, and many young farmers and entrepreneurs seek his advice on their businesses.
In addition to managing several businesses, Sixbert serves as a deacon at his church and as the president of his savings group. He believes that his transformation came from the redeeming grace of the Lord and his group meetings. A man that once felt like an outcast and was unable to express himself in public is now more social and feels a part of a bigger family in his community.
Meet our 2018 Thurman winners: Eckness, a savings group member with HOPE Malawi, and Andonie, a microfinance client with the Center for Community Transformation, HOPE’s partner in the Philippines, and Peter, a microfinance client with Urwego Bank, HOPE’s microfinance institution in Rwanda.