Shortage of skilled workers and poor management of co-operatives societies are stifling members’ efforts to benefit from their contributions.
While the co-operatives continue to list more members, services to remain a challenge to most of them.
Francois Hakuzimana, an Irish potatoes farmer in Rubavu district, has been working with the Umurenge Savings and Credit Co-operative Society to run his business.
However, when coronavirus pandemic hit the country, the business collapsed due to cash flow challenges and shortage of labour.
“When coronavirus kicked in, the financial institutions set maximum amount of money a member could access at Rwf100, 000 despite the high-interest rate. We were in the planting season, we could not continue with the business,” Hakuzimana told Rwanda Today.
Members complained that sometimes they cannot get enough financial support despite having enough deposits as required by regulations.
“It’s something that usually happens in various Saccos where you can go to withdraw some amount but you couldn’t find the amount you wanted,” noted Mr Hakuzimana, who heads the farmers in the western province.
An assessment by the Ministry of Trade and Industry has found that there are 283 unproductive co-operatives in 12 districts, out of 1,505 registered co-operatives with the Rwanda Co-operatives Agency.
According to the recent assessment carried out by parliament, challenges facing both Rwanda Co-operatives Agency and Rwanda Institute for Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance is lack of capacity largely blamed on the shortage of skilled staff.
“Rwanda co-operatives Agency does not have enough staff to follow up on the development of the operations the same case with RICEM that has also decried the staffers and financial hindrances to executing its mission, as many of the co-operatives have no financial capacity of footing the cost of training for their members,” said Juvenal Nkusi, chairperson of the Committee on Economic Development and Finance in the senate.
“Despite the local government entities always encourage people to form the cooperatives, many districts have no employees in charge of the cooperatives’ development. In some place, we have found public relations officer handling the management of the cooperative in of the districts we visited,” Nkusi added.