Passport Series: Rwandan borrowers who inspire us

To conclude our Passport Series on Rwanda, we would like to share with you a couple of particularly inspiring borrower stories to remind you just how impactful a $25 loan can be -- especially in a country where almost 45% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Meet Felicite

A 45-year-old mother of two, her (and her family’s) livelihood depends on her farm -- just like 90% of the Rwandan population.

That translates to: no crops, no income. Because the sector is deemed to be very high-risk, it's extremely hard for farmers in Rwanda to receive financial services, especially credit.

This is why Kiva has partnered with Rwandan microfinance institution Urwego Opportunity Bank -- to provide agricultural loans and opportunity to people like Felicite. She used her $1,425 Kiva loan to buy more fertilizer and support labor costs during this season’s maize production.

Without the Kiva loan, she may have been unable to purchase that fertilizer -- and her crops (and income) could have suffered because of it. With the profits that she will acquire from a successful harvest, Felicite plans to buy more plots of land for cultivation so she can keep growing her business.

Meet Elias.

Elias is a 40-year-old man from the Kayonza District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Just one year ago, he worked as a farmer, growing a few crops and selling maize in his village. He only made enough money to get by, and could never save up to grow his business.

Now, after working as a Nuru Energy entrepreneur for just over a year, he has sold nearly 100 rechargeable lights in his community. In just 12 short months, he has saved enough to begin buying and raising animals, and can easily afford to send his children to school. 

Meet Marie.    

A 52-year-old mother and owner of her own grocery store, Marie managed to raise her five children all by herself. She is now on her fifth loan with Urwego and Kiva, and she hasn't missed a single repayment. With this opportunity, she was able to send all five of her children to school all the way to university. Their education empowered them to become successful entrepreneurs across East Africa.

She used her first loan to start her own grocery store, and has since started several other businesses, including a restaurant and a salon. She is now incredibly successful -- since her first loan, she has even been able to get electricity, water, and a refrigerator!

“My life has changed dramatically since I got my first loan,” Marie says. “My children have all been able to go to very good schools, and I can buy anything I want. I remember a time when finding clothes was a problem, but these days I can afford a nice house and all things I like. It is also reassuring that, as I get older, I can afford healthcare. Being successful is all about commitment.”

Marie is an incredible example of how a microloan can change a life. In this case, it didn’t only change her life, but the lives of her five children as well.

Our amazing Kiva lenders made that possible.

Haven’t made a loan in Rwanda yet? Or want to make another? Lend to a borrower in Rwanda today!

This is the last of a three-part series looking at microfinance and Kiva’s impact in Rwanda. We hope you will consider lending in this beautifully inspiring nation that has overcome so much. Just $25 can change the life of someone like Felicite or Marie forever -- uplifting not only the borrower, but also their family and community.

In case you missed them, check out the first and second installments of the Passport Series for more on life in Rwanda and how Kiva fits in. 

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.