Archives For Rwanda

by Christine Baingana, CEO of Urwego Bank

As the CEO of Urwego Bank, the largest microfinance institution in the HOPE network—and in the country of Rwanda—Christine Baingana shares what she’s learning about leadership while leading a team of over 300 staff.

I first learned of HOPE International after reconnecting with Peter Greer, HOPE’s president and CEO, while I was in graduate school. I had met Peter in the early 2000s while I was working for a large commercial bank in my home country of Rwanda and he was serving as the managing director of Urwego Bank. As we reconnected, Peter shared about the work he was doing through HOPE International—and asked if I wanted to join him.

In 2010, I joined the HOPE International team as the savings and credit association (SCA) specialist, later going on to serve as the Africa SCA regional director. When HOPE became a majority stakeholder in Urwego Bank in 2016, I was asked to step into the role of CEO. Having been on the board for several years, I knew that this would be a challenging time to lead the organization. I felt unqualified to lead such a large team through such a major transition.

But as I sought counsel from others, they reminded me to think of those Urwego could serve, men and women who have not had many of the privileges and advantages that I have. As I took my eyes off of myself and focused on them, I chose to say yes to this opportunity. It’s exciting to know we are changing lives for the Kingdom, that men and women who come to Urwego for a small loan, or to find a safe place to save, will have the opportunity to overcome poverty and experience a closer relationship with the Lord and their community members.

Here are five of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned on this leadership journey:

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  Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award. 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 […]

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HOPE is thrilled to announce that we are deepening our long-standing partnership to serve the people of Rwanda through Urwego Bank. Read more in the press release below:

 

While living in Uganda as refugees following the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Mariya, her husband, and their six children made a living by raising cattle. Years later, they decided to return to their home country of Rwanda and use the money they had saved to build a house and start a small farm. But their homecoming would not be an easy one.

“When we got here, we faced a lot of problems,” remembers Mariya. Her oldest son lost his leg in an accident while driving a motorcycle taxi, and her eldest daughter suffered from intestinal infections. Struggling to profit from their small farm, the family found that these additional medical expenses exacerbated their already vulnerable situation, draining them not just financially, but also physically and spiritually. Continue Reading…

by Kevin Tordoff, Vice President of Marketing

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” On the surface, this common playground adage makes sense, but any victim of name-calling or bullying knows how words can cause pain long after they’re spoken. No one chooses to have a negative label attached to them, a moniker that identifies them as an outcast.

I was reminded of the power of names spoken over us on a recent trip to Gihindamuyaga, Rwanda, a community several hours south of the capital city of Kigali. Traversing the country provided unending views of the undulating hills Rwanda is known for, showcasing the prudent use of land for agricultural purposes. I had long heard from colleagues how much of a jewel this country is, and my visit did not disappoint. The hard-fought progress Rwanda has made since the horrific genocide of the mid-1990s is visible in many ways.

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In honor of Universal Children’s Day on November 20, we’re excited to share about the ingenuity and hard work of these children in Rwanda.

In southern Rwanda, two savings groups meet regularly to save between 7 and 73 cents a week. Named Dutezanyimbere, meaning “Let’s hold hands and move forward together,” and Dukomezumurimo, meaning “Let’s keep the calling,” these groups have big dreams. One plans to buy a cow for each member, while the other hopes to buy a house to use for rental income. While these might sound like typical savings groups, they’re unusual in one key demographic: They’re made up entirely of children, with members ranging in age from 12 to 17.

In Rwanda, 61 percent of the population is under the age of 24, and the median age is just 18. HOPE International typically impacts this age group indirectly by empowering parents to provide for their children—but the next generation is also learning the value of saving money. While only 79 of the 8,800 savings groups in Rwanda are made up of children, this small but impressive number is faithfully saving small sums for the future and learning more about God’s Word in community.

Oscar, the 17-year-old who serves as secretary of Dutezanyimbere, immediately saw the benefit of forming a savings group: “I had different needs as a child,” he shares. One of these needs is education. 16-year-old Vestine uses her savings to buy school supplies. Cecilia, another 16-year-old member, says, “I want to study hard and then get a loan from the group to pay for school fees in a good school.” She dreams of using that education to become a doctor.

Children's savings group

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