In December 2021, ARCOS facilitated the establishment of 17 new Umusave Funds at cell level involving 7,000 smallholder farmers working with ARCOS in focal cells through the Agroforestry for Livelihoods project in Rulindo and Bugesera, and ten Turaco Funds at sector level involving ten schools (engaged in ARCOS’ Eco-Schools Programme) in Rulindo, Bugesera, Kirehe & Rutsiro. These funds —as the existing seven Nature-Based Community Funds operating at village level in Rutsiro, Bugesera and Kirehe— aim to promote sustainable business and livelihoods at community/school level through small loans, incentives for best performers and initiatives with communal benefits in focal landscapes.
Feedback from local government and beneficiary communities/schools assert that this initiative will change the lives of local communities, however, its success and sustainability strongly rely on good collaboration between key stakeholders (ARCOS, local government and community/schools).
Protogene Habineza, is a resident of Bugesera District. Before joining Umusave Fund, his family income was very low. However, after receiving a loan from the Fund, he was able to expand his farmland from 100 m2 to one hectare. As of now, Protegene is a model organic farmer with a high annual produce.
Dr Sam Kanyamibwa, ARCOS Executive Director, affirmed that the Umusave and Turaco Funds came as response to lack of capital, costly borrowing schemes and limited access to formal financial services by community/schools and community-based organizations. He added that they contribute a lot in agricultural value chain development and helps Nature-Based/Schools Communities to run successfully small nature-based enterprises.