By Team A (Brett, Jamie, Victoria and Jeff)
SILC stands for Savings and Investment Leading Communities. Today we were able to meet with two SILC groups of villagers working together to save money in order to better their lives. The first group had 41 members who saved $400 toward a savings community and $100 to a social fund. The members in this group meet weekly to discuss challenges, savings and investments. By saving money together as a community instead of as individual families, they are able to buy more livestock, agricultural inputs and fund small businesses. It was interesting to listen to the farmers concerns, rationale for loans and questions.
Being able to compare the community groups from yesterday that have not started SILC and have much concern for their well-being to the groups from today that have hope in their future was very inspiring to all of us. The second SILC group saved less ($200 toward savings and $100 toward social fund) at a lower interest rate, due to its developing nature. Comparing and contrasting the different community groups allowed us to truly understand the progression of villages through CRS projects in Rwanda. Through the process of savings and lending, community members in Rwanda will be able to provide benefits to thier communities for generations to come.
Beyond learning about saving, we are also able to try a cultural delight called “fufu,” which is cassava flour and water combined to make a bread creation. Learning about Rwandan savings and cassava was a great way to end our last encounter with farmers.