How is the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda supporting its members in this time of crisis?

The SME Response Clinic spoke with Aimable Nkuranga, Executive Director of the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, to understand how the institution is supporting its members in this time of crisis.

I advise clients of MFIs and SACCOs to approach their institutions to express challenges and concerns and if they need to, to renegotiate their loan terms. MFIs and SACCOs are here to support in the best way that they can through this difficult time. 

What makes MFIs and SACCOs so important in Rwanda for SMEs?

MFIs and SACCOs are important because of the type of services that they offer. They try to help clients in running their businesses, managing their finances, and understanding how to interact with financial institutions in addition to providing financial services. 

What is the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR) doing to support members during the COVID-19 crisis?

AMIR has been in close contact with its members, which include SACCOs and microfinance institutions across the country. We have held several meetings and conducted assessments to understand the impact of this situation on their operations. We have gathered ideas that need advocacy and engaged various stakeholders to see how best to support our members. We are currently negotiating with donors and other stakeholders to see how we can set up an emergency fund. We have also helped our members with policy documents and carried out online training. We’re now working to see how we can help institutions better serve clients through digital channels. 

What are some of the solutions your members are implementing to support clients during this time? 

Our members are allowing their clients to renegotiate payment terms on a case-by-case basis. MFIs and SACCOs are also working on their systems; they are working to implement digital channels so that they can serve their clients without their clients needing to come in. A few of our members are also training their clients on topics such as the usage of digital channels.