In Rwanda, 65.4 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The number of orphans and the rate of HIV / AIDS infection are very high. After the genocide in 1994, which claimed the lives of a million people within 100 days and caused 3.5 million people to flee the country, Rwanda lay in ruins.
“Intambwe” is the name of the savings and micro credits program in the rural areas of Central Rwanda. The program is particularly designed for women. “Intambwe” means “step by step” in the local language Kinyarwanda. This alludes to the fact that the CARE program is designed to enable a step-by-step process to the women who take part in it and assists them in founding their small businesses. Many women have lost their husbands, children and relatives during the genocide and lack the bare minimum required for subsistence.
About 20 women form one village savings and credit group. In instruction and training sessions, the women learn to save money and manage their savings. With the money they put aside, they can make joint investments, such as buying a field and cows, in order to create a joint source of income. They can also grant loans to individual group members who will pay back the credits at a low interest rate. The money might also serve as collateral to take out a higher loan from a local bank. In these cases, it is particularly important that the start-up projects are well planned and calculated and that trained applicants negotiate with the banks about the approval of the loan.
To ensure that this task is carried out successfully, representatives from several savings and credit groups join to form teams of consultants. These teams are responsible for training and consulting the savings and credit groups and for assisting them in the preparation of their business start-up plans. The teams of consultants form the link between the savings groups and the banks.