Gédéon, who is married with two children, started the first microcredit group in Burishi, Burundi, one of the poorest countries in Africa. With the experiences of that first group and the “It can be done” project, he is looking to the future with new ideas.
“It all started in Cangwe, a small town located on the hill of Rukanda, where in 2019 AMU was supported the start-up of small microcredit groups to offer financial strength to local families. I used to pass that way which is how I heard about the Savings and Credit groups. Seeing how others were doing inspired me to take an interest in the project. I realised we were missing an opportunity in our village. That’s when I had the first idea and talked about it with some friends. From the exchange we decided to start the first savings and loan group in Burishi as well.”
Thanks to this small seed, the community has now become a “model” in microcredit activities and since 2020 has been included in the broader “It can be done” Community Microcredit and Microfinance project, which is run in 6 of the country’s provinces. The idea is that the groups’ members will be able to strengthen themselves and gain access to more and more credit through continuous training and support from CASOBU and AMU.
The income-generating activities in this locality revolve mainly around agriculture – the cultivation of cassava and palm oil, livestock breeding and small-scale trade.
A community microcredit group in Burundi
“Being together in the savings and credit group has helped us a lot,” Gédéon continues. “The group is an opportunity for us to pool our savings and think about income-generating activities we can do together, as well as individual ones. Our group is called ‘Turwanyubunebwe’, which means ‘fight against laziness’ in the Kirundi language. After our group began, five other groups have started up in my village. Now, with our savings, we can have credit, carry out activities and provide for our families.”
Through the supervision and support received from within the groups, the beneficiaries have realised that they can be the drivers of their own development and develop new models of activities.
“There have been times when, after pooling our savings and giving loans to those who asked for them, we found there was still money left in the fund, so we came up with an idea to keep the money in circulation, namely by carrying out a collective activity. We decided to raise cows, goats, pigs and even sheep, giving each of the members a turn to look after the animal, once purchased. This way the members not only have milk and manure, which are essential for life and fertilising the fields, but they can also finance the group’s other activities when the animal is sold. We currently have a total of 6 cows, 3 pigs, 2 sheep and 1 goat, not counting their young”. Gédéon and his group are now thinking about the future and how they can develop other business ideas to support their families, always with the community in mind:
“In time, we would like to acquire a cassava mill. Our dream is to create an activity with the community microcredit that will be like a legacy for our community, a testimony that speaks of the experience we have shared in this group.”