Where We Work Rwanda
Among all East African countries, Rwanda offers one of the strongest sources of hope and resilience. Following the devastating 1994 genocide, the country has made important and significant strides in its development, especially with women’s empowerment. Today, women make up two-thirds of Rwanda’s parliament, which is the largest percentage in the world. However, challenges persist for Rwandans. Half of the population still lives in poverty, and many children still drop out early from school due to the poor quality of education. Advancements in education and agriculture, especially given the large rural population, will be essential for Rwanda’s continued development over the next decade.
Rwanda by the Numbers
- 12.6M total population
- 83% of the population lives in rural areas, and 62% of the workforce is employed in agriculture
- 55% of people live on less than $1.90/day
- 37% of people have an account at a financial institution
- 87% of children complete primary education
Opportunity in Rwanda
Opportunity’s programs and partnerships in Rwanda are designed to support the large rural population that relies upon agriculture as their primary source of income and to ensure that children are able to attend, and stay in, school.
In Rwanda, Opportunity focuses on initiatives including:
- Creating opportunities for farmers to increase their crop yields and their incomes.
In Rwanda, many of the families Opportunity serves are rice farmers who need help learning how to properly and effectively cultivate rice seedlings, and how to grow secondary crops to earn income between rice harvests. Through agricultural loans and training in financial literacy and agricultural best practices, farmers are able to sustainably grow their crop harvests and increase their earnings.
- Ensuring that families can access high-quality education for their children.
Children of farmers are the most likely to have limited options for school. When parents are able to earn a better income, they are more likely to send their children to school instead of keeping them on the family farms. In addition, Opportunity supports local educators in farming communities with loans and training as they grow and improve their schools.
- Connecting rural families to financial services through mobile technology.
Mobile banking services are essential for rural farmers and busy mothers. These digital solutions allow families to access loans, deposit savings, and make payments through their mobile phones and independent local bank agents.
Mujawimana rises early each day to tend to her fields in Muhanga, Rwanda. She used to only grow maize on her small farm, and for years she struggled to produce enough to cover her costs. She never finished formal schooling, and she never learned good farming practices to achieve better yields. Fortunately, Mujawimana was able to take out an agricultural loan from Opportunity International. She used the loan to start planting rice, in addition to maize, to diversify and grow her income.
After three seasons of loans and training, Mujawimana is now producing an estimated 800 pounds of rice at harvest (more than four times her first rice harvest). She has also invested in growing more maize, installed more drying racks, and purchased a corn sheller, which allows her to store and sell the kernels for animal feed with minimal post-harvest losses.
For Mujawimana, the opportunity to grow her farm has greatly improved her income. She has started building her own home separate from the common family home, and she hopes to finish the roofing after the next harvest.