Through several capacity building trainings, park-edge communities including Village Loans and Savings Associations and Community Based Organisations (CBO’s) have been equipped with hands-on skills to improve their livelihoods initiatives and increase their household incomes. Trained entities include; beekeepers, handicrafts and weaving associations. Acquired skills include book/record-keeping, proposal development and long-term business planning.
Preceding the trainings, 12 Village Savings and Loan Associations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic received COVID-19 relief funds worth Rwf 16900,00 ($ 17000) and they hope the finance and loan management skills acquired will help them to effectively utilize the funds.
“After this training, we have committed to giving out loans strictly for income generating activities that will improve household income and also enable the VSLAs to grow financially,” says Venuste Ndacayisenga, Chairman of one of the VSLAs that received the fund.
The VSLAs agreed to give out loans at an interest rate of 5 % and the borrower should present a detailed investment plan prior to receiving the loan.
On the other hand, CBO’s hope the training will bridge the identified gaps that include; short-term action plans, poor fundraising and marketing strategies, poor finance management and poor partnership skills.
“We look forward to making appropriate long-term action plans that will enable us fundraise for a minimum of 3 years compared to the annual action plans we have been having,” says Jean Nepo Niyeyimana, member of a Beekeeping Cooperative.
Empowering Park edge communities to be self-sufficient reduces their dependence on the protected area and consequently fosters safety of the mountain gorillas and their habitat.