Murambi is a busy village. Up and down the hills of Rutsiro district in the western part of Rwanda, it is a place known for agriculture. To understand Murambi is to look at its hills —people climbing up with sacks of pineapples on their backs while others descend with sacks in their hands going to collect pineapples. No wonder Delphine picked interest in pineapple growing from here.
The 16-year-old entrepreneur walks to her garden dressed in a black top and an orange skirt, wearing a cross around her neck. She is enthusiastic about business because she has big dreams for her future. The senior two student is also World Vision-sponsored child from Umwezi Area Programme, which is supported by World Vision's Korea Office.
Delphine has four siblings and is the firstborn in her family. She feels she is a role model for her siblings because, being the oldest, they look up to her. During the week, Delphine attends her school where she performs well and, in the evening, when she comes back home she helps her mother with home chores.
"She is a very active child; she is always helping me with work at home when she is not taking care of her pineapples”, chimes in Olive, Delphine’s mother.
Saturdays, and sometimes Sundays, are Delphine's days dedicated to her business. She wakes up at 6:00 a.m. and walks up the hill to her garden where she grows pineapples. With a small hoe, Delphine removes grass from the pineapple garden and checks for the ripe ones that are ready to be harvested. During the harvest season, Delphine can pick an average of three ripe pineapples daily from her garden that she takes to the market. Each pineapple costs Rwf300 (30 US cents).
Delphine works until 11:00 a.m. and then goes back home. She takes a shower and waits for lunch to be served. In the evening she takes a 15-minute walk to the meeting place of Katazamwana savings group where she meets with her group members. Delphine is always excited to join the group because not only do they save money but they also share ideas with each other. They also meet with their mentor who reminds them of the advantage of savings.
The savings group has over 60 children who adopted a culture of savings from their parents. They save every week and the majority of the children have a share of Rwf100 (10 cents). All these children have set objectives of how they will use their savings, once they share out at the end of the year.
At their meetings, the group sits in a circle with a metallic case in the middle where each member puts their weekly savings. The group's treasurer writes down all the members present in a blue register book and also records in their individual small ledge books how much each member has saved.
The eldest in the group is 26 and the youngest is about three. The three-year-old member walks to the case and throws in her Rwf100 coin. The pretty baby dressed in a green sweater used to follow her elder sister to the group and eventually also joined the group. However, she is not the only young member. Two other young ones between three and four years old also come with their coins for saving.
It is amazing and inspiring for everyone to see children as young as this adopt a culture of saving. The community is inspired by the spirit of saving that these children have, because to them it seems almost unfathomable.
After the saving process is completed, the treasurer asks if there is anyone who would like to request a loan. The loan is given out after the group has saved and those with outstanding loans have paid their instalments to ensure there is enough money for lending out.
Like these children, Delphine was introduced to saving by her mother and developed a fondness for it. When she started saving, she used to get the money for saving from her parents. The spirit of entrepreneurship in her drove her to request a piece of land from her parents so that she would grow pineapples and get money for savings without depending on her parents.
“When I was very young, I used to follow my mother to the garden. Somehow, I liked it and I always imitated how she would dig and mulch the pineapples”, says Delphine.
Delphine had plans when she started growing pineapples. “I wanted to buy livestock that I would sell in the future and expand my pineapple growing”, she says. “I started saving Rwf100 every week. In a month, I had saved over Rwf400 (40 cents) and after a year the group shared out giving me Rwf4,800 (US$4.76).’’
With the hard-working spirit in her, today Delphine has bought livestock which includes chicken that have started laying eggs. When pineapples are out of season, Delphine sells the eggs to get her savings for the week. Delphine also bought a pig that provides manure for the garden. “I plan to take care of the pig, and when it grows big enough, I will sell it and buy a cow. That cow will provide milk for my family and I will also get money from the milk”, she says.
Through her savings group, Delphine buys scholastic materials and her school uniform —something that her mother Olive says has relieved her of the burden of buying them for her. “I got a loan from the group, and I bought myself books, pens, and school uniform –and also injected some of it into my pineapple growing business. Sometimes when my parents do not have money, I also buy [items] for my siblings”, she proudly reveals.
Delphine may seem young but she has big dreams for her agriculture business. She plans to buy a cow that will help her get enough manure for her garden. With the manure, she anticipates getting an increase in pineapple production which will help her expand the piece of land where she is currently growing pineapples.
Thanks to World Vision, every 60 seconds a family receives the tools to overcome poverty, and this family is proof. Delphine is now empowered to become an entrepreneur as a result of her mother’s participation in the pineapple growing cooperative—a cooperative that was supported and nurtured by World Vision. Haguruka Ukore Muhinzi cooperative was offered capacity-building in entrepreneurship, pineapple value chain development, financial literacy, conflict resolution, horticulture, and vegetable farming techniques, as well as Empowered Worldview training, among others by World Vision.
Having benefited from saving and working as a group, the group members wanted their children to adopt the culture of saving to enable them to provide for their needs at home and school. They then encouraged their children to form a village saving and lending association (VSLA), meeting every Saturday to put their savings together, while others get loans to buy livestock, pay for their family’s medical needs, and others.
Through World Vision’s VSLAs, communities have been empowered to overcome poverty and its root causes. Children like Delphine have been introduced to the culture of saving small coins. As the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”