I&M Bank supported the one-cow-per-family programme, popularly known as Girinka, by donating 17 cows to vulnerable families in Nyarugenge District in the City of Kigali.
The donation, delivered on June 14, was handed over to Nyarugenge District vice Mayor in Charge of Economic Development, Vedaste Nsabimana, on behalf of the beneficiaries.
All the 17 cows have a one year life insurance policy, meaning that if a beneficiary loses their cow within one year they would be compensated with another of similar breed.
I&M Bank's Head of Projects, John Gatashya, the bank's Head of Projects, said that I&M Bank is committed to giving back to society in which it operates.
"One of our responsibilities is to strive to improve the welfare of the people around us," Gatashya said, adding that they chose to support the Girinka programme because it's one of the home-grown solutions that have had a significant impact on eradicating extreme poverty.
"It's our culture, as Rwandans, to support each other through stocking cattle and we have already realised the impact of Girinka in fighting poverty," he added.
The bank is keen on supporting citizens through various programmes, including health insurance and community works, Gatashya said.
"Last year we donated health insurance to vulnerable residents of Musanze District in Northern Province and will continue supporting residents through Umuganda community work," he said.
Nsabimana explained the potential significance of the heifers that were donated.
Each cow has the potential to produce 10-15 litres of milk every day. This means that each beneficiary can earn an estimated daily income of Rwf2,400 if they sold at least 8 litres at the current market price of Rwf3000.
"I&M has effectively increased the incomes of each of the 17 families to at least Rwf72,000 per month. This is equal to employment," he said.
Nsabimana said that cows have been a source of unity and reconciliation in Nyarugenge District.
"Whenever the beneficiary passes on a calf to the next person, they become friends forever" he said.
The district had planned to distribute 150 cows to residents of Nyarugenge in the 2018/2019 fiscal year. However, it missed out on the target due to budget deficit.
"As a district, we managed to get 50 cows from our budget. Residents also gave to each other but we had a shortfall of 17 cows, which I&M Bank filled," he said.
The beneficiaries are upbeat.
For instance, Josiane Niyonsaba, said that the cow she received will give her milk, improve her family nutrition, and provide fertilisers that will potentially increase her agriculture output.
"I've been spending money to buy milk, which was not even enough for my family. Now, I got a cow I'll be selling milk after deducting some for my family," she said.