With Igicyeli, Hope Yvonne Mbabazi is uplifting the lives of women in rural Rwanda
Mbabazi Hope Yvonne is the co-founder of the Mother & Child Development Centre (MCDC), a non-governmental organisation that uplifts rural women economically.
She undertook her Masters degree in Public Health at MKURR, graduating in 2014. Before then, she had earned a Bachelors degree in Social Studies at NUR-Butare.
“The location of MKURR was convenient,” says the mother of four. “I didn’t have to travel for a long distance as was the case when I undertook my undergraduate.”
MCDC brings together rural women in groups and educates them on entrepreneurship and money management.
The women can borrow money to fund their enterprises, and other economic activities notably in small-scale agriculture. The initial aim was to also impart skills in tailoring, beauty (manicure and pedicure), catering and nutrition.
Through a project known as “Igicyeli”, they guarantee one another the loans within their groups. A group has 35 members.
MCDC started by training women how to save RFW100. Gradually, the women were had the skills to handle larger amounts of money.
In the current 2022-’23 year, the NGO has disbursed more than RWF30 million into Igicyeli. This is a massive increase from the RWF18 million last year, RWF11 million in 2020- ‘21 and RWF3 million in 2018- ‘19.
The women repay the loans at 2% interest. But the money does not go to MCDC. It goes back into the women groups as Ingoboka (social fund) that caters for emergency needs of the members.
And when there is no emergency, the members share out the money. Ingoboka also steps in to aid those who are unable to repay their loans for one reason or the other.
One such project area in Musanze, Northern Province, has 771 women organised in small groups.
Mbabazi, who is also an entrepreneur and farmer, says she applies the Public Health skills received from MKURR in ensuring the women groups’ families have proper nutrition.
“You see, in some villages, some of the families used to survive on a meal a day. But after we trained them on, for example, rearing cows and subsistence agriculture, they have enough food to eat at least three times a day.”
MCDC is also a contributor to the Girinka programme, in which economically disadvantaged families in the rural areas receive a cow. Girinka has had positive impact in improving nutrition and livelihoods.
In 2017, Mbabazi received community service award from MKURR for her efforts. “MKURR has really transformed my life. The education is internationally recognised and it’s surprisingly affordable. I would recommend it to anyone looking for quality education,” she says.