The New Times (Kigali)

25 November 2012

Rwanda: Kicukiro Co-Ops Receive Rwf75 Million Boost

Various cooperatives in Gikondo, Kigarama, Gitega and Kanombe Sectors of Kicukiro District in Kigali city, have so far received Rwf75 million from Evangelical Restoration Church to support members to start and boost their income generating activities.

The support is part of a three year Global Fund project implemented by the church in the district to support people infected and affected by HIV/Aids. It is also aimed at empowering vulnerable families to fight poverty through income generating activities.

Before extending the financial support, the church trains the management of the cooperatives in financial and cooperative management.

Last On Saturday, 60 members from 20 cooperatives in the three sectors completed the final training programme that paves way for them to receive Rwf25 million.

"As members who are directly involved in handling financial issues, it is of great importance that we give them guidelines and general knowledge on how they can carry out their responsibilities if these cooperatives are to succeed or benefit their members," explained Flavier Mwanga, the national coordinator of the project.

He said that the training programme has so far benefited 180 members from 60 cooperatives, adding that more members are scheduled to benefit.

Some of beneficiaries who attended the training told The New Times that it will help them to team up.

"What we learnt will give us a new working approach in our daily activities especially on mobilisation and financial management; something that we expect to positively impact our cooperatives," said Hamida Uwimana, a member of Gira Ubushake Dukure Cooperative that is based in Gikondo Sector.

Another beneficiary, Sarah Nyirarukundo, pointed out that some participants have already been grouped and that they would form other new cooperatives.

Church officials said the training programme also inculcates members with governance skills as a way of promoting good governance and combat graft.

Mismanagement and embezzlement of cooperative funds especially by cooperative leaders are among the major challenges that affect their operations.

To further address the issue, Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), which oversees the operations of cooperatives devised an initiative to audit cooperatives suspected of misusing funds.

RCA Director General, Damien Mugabo, disclosed that those found guilty prosecuted and if convicted are compelled to repay the missing funds.

RCA Director of the Supervision and Audit Unit, Christine Mukakiramba, noted that instances of cooperative managers using members' savings and capital to carry out personal businesses was a key factor leading to mismanagement of funds.

RCA records indicate that in the months between July and September, 28 cooperatives lost over Rwf200 million. Basing on the regulator's investigations, a total of 169 people, including top managers, were at fault for using the said funds without approval.

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