Cutting their cloth

Self-help groupsRwanda

George was without hope. He could not feed his family or send his children to school. The income that he and his wife were earning from their small tailoring business wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. George had moved with his family from Gakenke in the North of Rwanda to Karambi in the East because in Gakenke they were struggling with poverty. In Karambi they hoped to find a more profitable life, but their dreams hadn’t been realised.

George’s wife had a sewing machine and made clothes for people at the trading centre. He says, ‘We depended on this business for every need, including food, as we did not have land. My wife taught me how to make clothes with her machine so I could help her, but we were still very poor as we did not have money to purchase cloth. The business was not going well.’

A special visit
In May 2016 Tearfund partner Moucecore visited his local Pentecostal church. They spoke of how people’s lives can be transformed by self-help groups. George and his wife were encouraged by this and soon joined one of the groups. 

Facilitators from the church taught them how to save as a group and soon each member was saving 500 Rwandan francs (Rwf), equivalent to five pence a week. For George and his wife it meant they had to save 1000 Rwandan francs in total, and they found this very hard. 

But after seven months of consistent saving, they were able to borrow 150,000 Rwf (£150) in January 2017. They used this to buy two more sewing machines and increase their stocks of cloth. Their business was starting to take off, and soon they had an order from a local school to make uniforms.

George and his hardware store

A good balance
When they were paid, they were able to pay off their credit with the self-help group immediately. They took an additional loan so George could start a hardware business – a wise and profitable move as there was soon great demand for his services.

George says the numbers speak for themselves: ‘My capital is now about 2,500,000 Rwf (£2,500). It is not easy to imagine such a profit in just six months – starting from nothing. But when God blesses the work of your hands it happens.

‘There is no magic to it; it’s joining up with others and bringing our resources together that has propelled us to where we are now. I have hope for the future and I’m planning to construct my own house within two years. 

‘We no longer consider ourselves poor as we can afford the necessities of life. Other members of our self-help group have also overcome poverty. To have a bank account was a dream to us, but now we have one. Praise be to God! Poverty is not incurable, poverty can be defeated!’

PRAYER FOCUS:

  • Thank God for the transformation in George and his family’s life, from poverty to hope.

  • Ask God to help George’s story to be spread far and wide, encouraging those families in Rwanda who are feeling helpless.

  • Pray for the work of Tearfund and its partners, including Moucecore, who are working with local churches.


Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.