Student savings hit Rwf460m in five years
Efforts to encourage a savings culture among Rwandans, especially children, are starting to bear fruit with more students opening up accounts.
According to Charity Uwase Kabarega, the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR) finance officer, over Rwf459 million has been saved by primary and secondary school students from 2011 to date.
Kabarega also said 87,622 savings clubs have been created, while 66,998 savings accounts were opened by students. She attributes the achievement to the initiative by AMIR to introduce financial education in schools through savings clubs as one of the ways to promote a savings culture among young people in the country.
The programme is supported by Ministry of Education and the UK government through the Department for International Development (DFID).
“When children start saving and working with financial institutions at an early age and accumulate more money, they will be able to invest in other income-generating projects and will create jobs for other youth. This, besides helping address the problem of youth unemployment in the country, it will increase bank deposits and access to investment funds by the private sector. This will, eventually, foster growth,” Kabarega added.
Meanwhile, AMIR targets to create savings clubs in 100 more primary and secondary schools next year.
Kabarega said the move is aimed at giving more students an opportunity to learn about money and savings at an early age to create a strong savings base in the country. She was speaking during a stakeholders meeting in Kigali on Monday.
Jean Pierre Uwizeye, a senior programmes manager at AMIR, said they have created savings clubs in 120 schools, stressing that adding more schools in the programme will promote financial inclusion and reduce the problem of access to start-up capital among young Rwandan entrepreneurs.
“The youth play an instrumental role in any economy…So, when they have enough savings they will start small businesses that will ensure growth,” he said.
He urged teachers, parents and guardians to support the initiative, saying AMIR alone cannot achieve much.
“The role of parents is crucial to ensure children understand the importance of savings. Schools also have a big role to play, especially supporting creation of savings clubs, as well as a conducive environment that encourages children to save,” he said.
He noted that when more Rwandans save, the private sector will be able to access credit to invest and support the country’s development objectives.
Bringing polytechnics on board
In a related development, financial education and enterprise development will be introduced in the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRCs) curriculum.
“Many students graduate from polytechnics, but lack money to buy tool kits to start small enterprises. Therefore, when they start saving part of their money through savings clubs, it will be easy for them to start new life after graduation,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Francoise Uwera, the director of Ikibondo Primary School, Huye District, said the school encourages pupils to save some of their pocket money. Uwera said that of the school’s 392 students, only three are not saving “due to the negligence of their parents”.
“But we will keep educating their parents about the importance of saving. The savings club initiative by AMIR is good because it creates a pool of resources for future investors and job-creators,” she said.