Rwanda is a small land-locked country located in East Africa covering 26 338km2. It is the most densely populated country in Africa with a population of approximately 9 million people. More than 90% of the population lives in rural areas. It ranks 161st out of 177 participating nations measured on the United Nations Human Development Index (2007 -08). Rwanda is among the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa with per capita income of USD 230. The prevalence of HIV and AIDS is 3.1% and life expectancy at birth is 39.3 years. The HIV and AIDS prevalence rate is 2.9% and life expectancy at birth is 45.6 years.
The country is working to overcome the impact of the 1994 genocide, during which an estimated 800 000 – 1 million people lost their lives. The government has put into place a number of programmes to try to move the country towards a long term sustainable peace through reconciliation.
The economy is however is still small and agricultural based. According to the World Bank, agriculture accounted for 35% of GDP in 2006. The challenges currently facing the country are: building up its infrastructure; provision of agricultural extension services and; development of its labour force.
The Rwandan cooperative movement is characterized by the predominance of informal groups with a cooperative purpose, that is to say entities that have not yet met all the requirements for recognition as cooperative societies. Characteristic of the movement is also the importance of savings and credit cooperatives, with 211 cooperatives out of the 228 micro-finance institutions registered by the National Bank on February 2006. Concerning the level of structural organization at the regional and national levels, a study conducted by Care International in 2003 showed the disappearance of multifunctional cooperatives and cooperative bodies covering particular geographical areas. Another trait of cooperatives in Rwanda is the tendency for cooperatives to be grouped on the basis of product categories. The latter characteristic offers a great potential, particularly in the markets for rice, tea, coffee, cheat, potatoes, cassava and maize.
Cooperatives are understandably most dynamic in areas where they are firmly structured such as the following:
- Rice growing: rice growers’ cooperatives control almost all rice production and represented 40,148 members in 2004.
- Tea planting: in 2004, cooperatives belonging to the federation of Rwandan tea planters had a total membership of 30,097 producers.
- Coffee growing: the number of coffee producers was estimated at 450,000 in 2004.
- Savings and credit: the network of People’s Bank is the oldest savings and credit cooperative and the largest in terms of geographical coverage, value of deposits and volume of loans.
The growth and support of cooperatives in Rwanda present the possibility of promoting all key objectives of CoopAFRICA : Establishing an enabling legal and policy environment; enhancing access to support services through Centres of Competence; promoting effective co-ordinating structures; and strengthening the cooperative movement through a Challenge Fund mechanism.
The Challenge Fund facility of CoopAFRICA is concerned with three main areas of cooperative development: services, innovation and training. So far, CoopAFRICA held three calls for proposals under this facility for proposals up to USD 50,000 USD. Small grants of up to USD 20,000 are considered and selected throughout the year without a special call.
CoopAFRICA encourages cooperative stakeholders in Rwanda to apply to the Challenge Fund.
|Name & Title
||Rwanda Cooperative Agency