Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Welcoming Amasezerano Community Banking, S.A. to Kiva

Kiva’s newest field partner, Amasezerano Community Banking S.A. is as lovable as its native country Rwanda. And that’s no small statement, because Rwanda could win anyone over—it has endless green hills and an engaged, courageous citizenry.

Rwanda is often seen as an international development success story in process—Kigali’s streets are clean, and the Rwandan population benefits from basic national health insurance. But poverty remains grinding and ever-present. The majority of the population lives below 250 Rwandan francs (about $0.43) per day (CIA World Factbook), and the densely packed Rwandan population is haunted by food insecurity, AIDS, Malaria, and infant mortality.

After the horrific genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, an NGO called African Evangelical Enterprises-Rwanda (AEE) started offering material support—food, clothes, other necessary items, to the many widows and orphans that the genocide, and the civil war that preceded it, left in its wake. Eventually, AEE decided that lending money was a more sustainable way to empower Rwandans in need, and in 2006, Amasezerano Community Banking S.A. was born. Their name means promise, or, more precisely, covenant—their commitment to serving and empowering Rwandan people.

During their early phase, Amasezerano focused on providing credit and savings services for low-wage salaried workers in Kigali. As they have grown, they are lending in more rural areas, where need is great. By providing 0% interest financing and sharing the risk associated with lending to poorer, less traditionally credit-worthy people, Kiva lenders will play an active role in extending Amasezerano’s reach.

During the week that I spent training Amasezerano’s team on Kiva processes, they did a fantastic job. Their excitement and the joy that they take in their work were contagious. If you’d like to learn more about Amasezerano, visit their Kiva partner page; or check out their Kiva loans.