In 2014, President Kagame requested for the consolidation of all 416 Umurenge SACCO through the ‘Cooperative Bank’ project that was expected to broaden "financial inclusion" in the country, working through the Umurenge Saccos and increasing financial services in rural areas.
In February 2015, FinTech International Limited won the bid to consolidate all SACCOs but the project deadline ended without the completion of computerization and linking of SACCOs operations as it was expected.
However, after the project was handed over to IT experts in Rwanda, results are slowly but surely materializing where since January 4th, 2020, Rutunga district SACCO started benefiting from the program.
In an interview with IGIHE, Prof. Harelimana Jean Bosco, RCA Director-General said that the project is currently being managed by different institutions in Rwanda including RCA, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) and Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA).
“We have conducted a pilot trial in three SACCOs including Rutunga, Gisenyi, and Kanombe and if results are satisfying, we expect to start using the same model in all SACCOs by the end of 2020.”
RCA mentioned that it is difficult to estimate the value of the project since it is being managed by IT experts who already work in different government institutions. “This is a locally tailored initiative and no plan was elaborated to estimate the exact value of the project.”
Linking all SACCOs to a common computer system is expected to curb corruption practices that have characterized SACCOs in the past and guarantee safety to stakeholders who complained that the co-operatives were not in any way supporting financial inclusiveness.
Prof Harelimana said that after the computerization of SACCOs’ operations, most issues that were reported in the past will be completely solved.
“We expect quicker services and daily reports that will allow for complains to be immediately addressed.”
Umurenge SACCO was launched by the Government of Rwanda in 2009 with the aim of pooling savings for members and providing them with credit facilities at low-interest rates, therefore, promoting financial inclusiveness.
There are currently 416 Umurenge SACCO across the country. In 2019, SACCOs reported a 2.7 million customer base, assets worth Rwf 120 million and savings worth Rwf 60 billion.