Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Passport Series: Rwanda: Country Profile

Rwanda is a beautiful, lush, tiny country in East Africa. This month we will feature Rwanda with weekly blog posts about the country, its MFIs, lenders to, and borrowers from this country! Kiva has partnerships with three MFI’s in Rwanda: Urwego Opportunity Bank , Vision Finance Company, and Amasezarano Community Banking, S.A.

Photo Credit: CIA World Fact Book

The Basics:

Rwanda is home to just over 11 million people, and is a very young population with about 43% of the citizens below the age of 14. They maintain a per capita GDP of just below $1200 USD (adjusted for PPP), yet 60% of the population lives below the poverty line (of $2 USD/day with PPP). There is a very high Gini co-efficent, showing high inequality; partially demonstrated by the fact that the lowest 10% of the population live on about 2% of the national GDP and the highest earning 10% of the population live on about 40% of the GDP. Over 40% of Rwanda’s economy is supported by agriculture with two of their largest exports being Tea and Coffee (grab some Rwandan coffee this month and taste for yourself – its delicious and often surprisingly rich!)

Photo Credit: Austin Harris

While the country is still very definitely in the beginning stages of development, they have a strong and stable government. This past summer they re-elected their president, Paul Kagame, in a relatively peaceful election. His latest campaign promise was to extend the already strong education in Rwanda to include free and mandatory secondary schooling in this next term. (Literacy in Rwanda is currently already over 70%.)

Photo Credit: Kate Heryford

Rwanda is the most densely populated country in all of Africa. There are three official languages in Rwanda: Kinyarwanda, French and English. East Africans are often said to be the nicest people in the world, and Rwandans only seem to make this claim even more supported.

Rwanda is most popularly known for their civil conflicts and then genocide. In 1994, the two majority ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, engaged in genocide where 800,000 Tutsis were killed in just under 4 months and many more became refugees. Since then, rebuilding of the country has been slow but very successful. There has been strong support from the international aid community and progress has been significant.

Photo Credit: Austin Harris

Just for Fun!:

For something different, make some Rwandan food tonight! A meal could include Goat Brochettes, skewers of goat meat usually cooked bbq-style over an open fire, with a plate of white rice and Kachumbari, a tomato and onion salad mix (its very similar to a salsa – and quite easy to prepare – the recipe is below!)


5 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 small onions, very thinly sliced
1 red chili
, cut lengthways into 5 strips
handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
cayenne pepper to decorate

Slice the tomatoes, onions, and chili. Place in a bowl and mix in the coriander, lime, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve either fresh or chilled.