Passport Series: Kiva partners offer innovative solutions in Rwanda

Tragedy struck Rwanda almost 20 years ago when hundreds of thousands of citizens were killed in a matter of months in a horrific genocide. While great strides have been made, the economy has never been the same since. Over 40% of the population still lives below the poverty line. We are proud that Kiva’s presence in Rwanda can help the nation regrow by providing opportunity to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

To date, Kiva lenders have made over 7,500 loans (over 60% of them to women) in Rwanda via five local microfinance partners. 

Nuru Energy is one partner providing Rwandan communities with much more than economic opportunity. It also provides a sustainable and efficient source of power to rural areas via its re-charging platform -- the Nuru POWERCycle pedal generator. 

Five of Nuru’s LED lights can be charged in 20 minutes, and one light can provide up to 10 days of light for rural households.

Marco operates his Nuru PowerCycle to charge a headlamp.

How does this innovation translate into a Kiva loan?

Village-level entrepreneurs take out small loans of $50 to $100, which gets them an initial package of twenty lights, a PowerCycle with manual, a Nuru T-shirt and hat, and a small Nuru sign for their recharge location. They establish their own business and income when they resell the lights and build a community that will regularly come back to them for recharging services.

Nuru's headlamp (shown here) is its primary product.

Nuru lights are considerably more affordable than solar powered lights (and much cheaper than traditional kerosene over time), meaning the potential client base is greater.

Urwego Opportunity Bank is another Rwandan partner going above and beyond to improve the lives of its borrowers. Translating to “ladder” in the local language, Urwego’s mission is to provide a ladder of opportunity to the country’s poorest citizens so they can improve their lives and become contributing members of their communities. More than just financial services, Urwego also offers training in business development, financial literacy, and health management to its clients.

A whopping 90% of the Rwandan population works in the agricultural sector -- so Kiva’s funds are used to support Urwego’s vital agricultural loan products.

Urwego also offers additional loan types, including community loans, solidarity group loans, micro business loans, agriculture loans, motorcycles loans and more -- all geared toward helping people improve their lives.

Urwego has facilitated over 4,700 Kiva loans totaling almost $3 million since becoming a Kiva partner almost 3 years ago.

Make a loan to a borrower in Rwanda today.

For some inspiring success stories from Rwandan Kiva borrowers, check out the third and final installment of this month’s Passport Series next week.

Questions about lending in Rwanda? Send them our way at

About the author

Emily Wakefield

A native of southern California, Emily is a recent graduate from Santa Clara University where she studied Economics and Spanish Studies. The highlight of her college experience was the semester she spent abroad in Granada, Spain. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in economic development after reading Half the Sky. Emily will be joining the Marketing and Communications team as a Blog and Social Media Intern and is especially excited to find new and creative ways to spread Kiva’s work to more people. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to country music, and re-watching Friends episodes for the millionth time.