Genocide widows to benefit from new loan guarantees

Officials after the launch of the EVKEP fund in Karongi (Kelly Rwamapera)
Officials after the launch of the EVKEP fund in Karongi (Kelly Rwamapera)

By Kelly Rwamapera, The New Times

The National Association of Genocide Widows (AVEGA) and Urwego Bank have put together a scheme to help widows of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Karongi District to access cheap loans.

Over 400 households are set to benefit from a loan guarantee through the Survivors Fund (SURF) in order to venture into income generating projects, through a new project called the Empowering Vulnerable Genocide Widows in Karongi District to Alleviate Extreme Poverty (EVKEP) project.

Launching the Fund on Friday last week, the Governor of Western Province, Alphonse Munyantwali, said that the project will also go a long way in addressing cases of trauma among Genocide widows.

“We have seen it first-hand that when survivors are in extreme poverty they are prone to trauma and when their incomes improve they also overcome trauma,” he said.

Munyantwali called upon SURF and AVEGA to expand the project to cater for all the districts in Western Province, which he said still experience many cases of trauma stemming from low incomes, especially among Genocide widows.

“Districts are ready to work with you because income generating activities have a direct impact on decreasing trauma among Genocide survivors” he said.

The Fund is expected to benefit up to 1,200 people.

SURF and AVEGA will help the widows in preparing bankable projects, including refining their business plans which will be presented to Urwego Opportunity Bank for financing.

The fund covers 100 per cent of the value of collateral that the widow may need to acquire a loan.

Besides the loan guarantee, the families will be equipped with solar panels for lighting their homes and low wood-consuming stoves.

“We also want to cover their expenses on energy for cooking and lighting so they are able to service their loans accordingly” Munderere said.

Valerie Mukabayire, the president of AVEGA, said that; “SURF has been on our side since 1995 when we started the quest to live a meaningful life.”

Today, she added, Genocide widows contribute to national development.

AVEGA has over 19,000 members.

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