The New Times (Kigali)

10 January 2013

Rwanda: Banks Challenged to Promote Saving Culture

Banks should encourage people to save with them to raise sustainable liquidity to lend to borrowers, Gilles Guerard, the Ecobank managing director, has noted.

"We have to educate people on why they should save with commercial banks. We can even encourage them with gifts," he said.

Adopting a saving culture, he added, leads to economic growth and raises household income and, hence, improves people's living standards.

"The masses have to understand that it is through saving that they can have sustainable income to develop themselves," Guerard said during the grand draw of the bank's "Win Big" campaign yesterday.

Ecobank realised over Rwf500m during the four months of the campaign, improving the bank's capacity to lend to the private sector.

The promotion aimed at encouraging a saving culture among the unbanked masses in Rwanda.

Beatrice Umutesi, a real estate dealer, who won the grand prize of a new Hyundai Accent, said saving was important for one to achieve economic empowerment.

To qualify for the draw, one had to first open a savings or current account in Ecobank and save Rwf10,000 a month. Old clients were expected to save Rwf60,000 a month.

According to Central Bank statistics, the banking sector loan portfolio rose by 20% to Rwf757b in the first half of 2012, up from Rwf631.2b in December, 2011. Deposits grew by 12.8%, from Rwf716.5b in December, 2011 to Rwf808.4b in June, 2012.

"The business community needs sustainable access to finance to grow their enterprises," Davis Mukiza, a business consultant, noted. Access to finance is especially hard for small-and-medium businesses, thanks to the rigid loan conditions put in place by commercial banks.

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