Since 2010 this organization has been operating in Rwanda and has helped about 69.973 citizens of Rwanda, whereby, putting them in small groups where they start a development project initiative that is sponsored by this organization with a foundation of over 6 million frw.
Spark MicroGrants’ vision is to see a world where everybody lives with dignity and determines their own positive future
How does Spark MicroGrants help people?
This project initiative works in partnership with the Social Economic Development Officer (SEDO), these are the ones that follow up on the called ‘Inyenyeri’ meaning ‘stars’ elected by the village members to support them to run village meetings.
When the village has set up and become organized, those Inyenyeri help the village members through various brainstorming sessions project ideas that can help them to reach their goal; they spend six-month meeting and perfecting their project. After that Spark MicroGrants provides grants to the village to implement their projects and keeps working with that village for a period of three years.
These people that came to learn from this project will be going in Kamubuga sector, Mbatabata cell in Gakenke district, one of the places where this project initiative collaborates with the citizens in the country.
When they arrived in the area they met citizens living in that village in their small groups discussing on a farming project as their development project.
Frank Adule, a Ugandan citizen when talking to IGIHE said “I observed that Rwandan people are united and know what they want, they seat together sharing ideas, I believe this is a lesson I can take back to Uganda.”
Nyirasafari Presence, a citizen in Bugogo village, in Kamubuga sector is also Inyenyeri in her village.
She told IGIHE that all village ideas come from village members, they work together and decide which project will be more profitable and sustainable.
“Spark MicroGrants gives us funding on three levels, and all citizen in the village are allowed to benefit from it. Their particularity is that they first give us training on how we should manage our project and the follow up on us for three years.” She said
The government praises Spark MicroGrants’ initiative
Uwihanganye Patrick representing the vice mayor in charge of economic development in Rulindo District, told IGIHE “Spark MicroGrants has been helpful here in Rulindo, they started in Cyungo and Buyoga Sector, they went on to Rukozo sector in the year 2019-2020 they will reach Murambi sector.”
“We love their methods because they help us in following up on the activities we introduce to citizens, they work hand in hand with the citizen and are complementary to government programs.”
The country director of Spark MicroGrants in Rwanda, Gilbert Nsabimana, said that every year different partners from various countries they work with to use this approach, meet to work on how to perfect it.
“They all come here every year to evaluate which methods they use and how they can improve it so the citizens can be helped effectively, we come up with a method that can work with a specific country whether in Rwanda or Uganda.” He said
He explained that they work in partnership with the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), in monitoring how citizens plan their programs in accordance with their village
“The goal here is not to provide money only but to see citizens working in harmony, men and women both contributing in development activities, reducing conflicts and to see government programs fulfill through the collaborating of the citizens,” He said
Why did Spark MicroGrants choose to go in all villages comprising a sector?
Nsabimana said, “we started taking one village per sector, but later on we thought on creating a large scale impact and we decided to take a whole sector and go into every village of that sector, then we will evaluate the change.”
He said that for some sector they were able to take all villages included, like in Rulindo, Gakenke and in Gisagara.
“Now we want to start taking a whole district and see the result, then we will take the whole province.”
Since 2010, how can the result be visible?
Nsabimana explained that they have worked with 133 villages and among them, there has been a significant change.
“When we give then fund for a project, they use the benefits to create other projects aside. For example, some have started plans to replace their rooftops, bringing water, electricity power; they pay for health insurance for each other, and much more.” He said
What are the criteria for choosing a village?
Nsabimana explained the base on the numbers made by the National Institute of statistics in Rwanda.
“There are numbers given by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda that are shared with all Districts; when we get in a given district we don’t know which sector to take or not. So we refer to those numbers, and we also look at places with no infrastructures because most other organizations limit themselves on places with roads,” he said
“We also focus where most people are very poor, where the help is needed we go there.”
He said that in everything they do, the citizen has first priority in thinking for themselves what can be useful in their development, Spark only comes to boost their ideas with funding.