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Rural Women in Burundi, Indispensable Partners in the Fight Against Poverty

When economically and socially empowered, women contribute significantly to food security and increased incomes for their families and communities. In this context ICCO Cooperation Burundi has forged a partnership with microfinance institutions (MFIs) to train male and female producers, so that they can improve their knowledge on the importance of savings, on the different financial products, on the way to make reasoned choices regarding financial commitments.

Rural Women in Burundi, Indispensable Partners in the Fight Against Poverty

However, their status in relation to men often prevents them from fully realizing their potential: They have much less access to the resources that would make their work more productive and relieve them of their hard work. In the fields, they plant, weed, pick, harvest but rarely manage them. Moreover, they have less access to information on best agricultural practices and funding.

Invest in women

"ICCO, as an international NGO, has more than 50 years of experience working with women. We realized that the financial inclusion of women through microfinance was an ideal and sustainable way to invest in the economic development of Burundi, so we have invested our resources and experience in this area”, explains Netlyn Bernard ICCO Cooperation's Regional Director of Operations. At a time when agri-finance is undergoing an undeniable change in Burundi, rural Burundian women producers need support to learn how to adapt and seize new opportunities that arise.

Ms. Bukundiye Adelaide, 57, widow, living in Gihanga Commune, Bubanza Province owns a 1 hectare field bequeathed by her deceased husband. Three years ago, this field in which the family grew rice, brought them two tons per growing season. To achieve this amount, they had to take down a long-term job demanding colossal financial means for the acquisition of seeds, fertilizers and to pay the labor. 

Microfinance, Agrifinance and Value Chains

Ms. Bukundiye testifies that since two years, the program Microfinance, Agrifinance and Value Chains (MAVC) executed by ICCO Cooperation Burundi allowed her to increase the volume of her production by passing, for the same surface of 1 ha, from 2 tons to 4 tons. Moreover, adds Ms. Bukundiye the MAVC program of ICCO Cooperation has greatly contributed to lighten the burden of her work in the field, but especially to significantly reduce the expenses relating to the purchase of fertilizers and the payment of labor.

Capacity Building

Financial education, the transmission of new farming techniques incorporating the consideration of the gender-specific needs of producers have been the catalysts for the change that has occurred in Ms. Bukundiye’s life and that of thousands of other Burundian female producers. According to the Executive Director of the Network of Microfinance Institutions, Ms. Louise Kamikazi, It is important to equip women with a variety of skills. Capacity building for women is an essential approach that brings benefits for women, their households while generating profits. Capacity development helps women access markets and services. In addition, it can help lay the groundwork for women to make decisions within the household and the community, says Kamikazi.

ICCO partners with MFIs

It is in this context that ICCO Cooperation Burundi has forged a partnership with microfinance institutions (MFIs). The latter went to the meeting of producers, producer organizations, including women to train them so that they could improve their knowledge on the importance of savings, on the different financial products, on the way to make reasoned choices regarding financial commitments. 

Ms. Bukundiye testifies in these words: "Not long ago I kept my income at home or in a knot tied on a loincloth that I wore daily. As a result, at the slightest need, I spent it without thinking too much, having neither clear prospects nor plans apart from the dreams I was harboring without hope of realizing them one day. ICCO Cooperation came at a good time to us in Gihanga".

Scheduled deposits and withdrawals

"Thanks to the knowledge acquired during the training given by the microfinance agents, I was able to open a bank account that allowed me to make scheduled deposits and withdrawals. I have also benefited, three times in a row, from credits that have allowed me, among other things, to pay school fees for my three children enrolled in university, to build houses that I rent and to provide for other needs. daily that I would never have imagined satiate."

Impact

In Burundi, 87.1% of the female population is farming. Since the beginning of the MAVC programs in Burundi:

  • 12 091 women trained
  • 92,662 women opened bank accounts
  • 11.772 credits granted to women
  • 95% of credits granted to women were refunded
  • The gender approach advocated by ICCO Cooperation: Include women in project activities; Improve their well-being, Build women's capacity to make strategic life choices and put them into practice.
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