Tools for Hope, Inc. (TFH) magnifies donor support by combining it with profits from Rwandan small-holder farmer run enterprises. Each dollar donated to TFH is multiplied by incomes from businesses mentored by TFH and started with no-interest loans from TFH. Thank you for helping to make a positive difference in the lives of the Twisungane group families.
During the current pandemic it is especially important for the Rwandan farmers to use the best agricultural methods to secure a stable, nutritious supply of food.
The Twisungane cooperative combines their agriculture activities with non-agricultural activities to make money. The combination is necessary, and often the only barrier to malnutrition / starvation, because at best the small-holder farmers cannot produce enough food or income from their farms to sustain themselves.
Tools for Hope Increases the Impact of Donor Funding
TFH has exceptionally low overhead costs (e.g., no paid employees except for Frank our mentor to the Rwandan farmers, no office rent, web-site fees, etc.). More importantly however is the remarkably positive impact TFH has on the community with which it works i.e., the Twisungane Cooperative.
TFH lends at zero interest for the length of time needed to ensure the business enterprise can repay the loan and meet all its other obligations based on a business plan agreed to by the farmers and TFH. In Rwanda currently interest rates for such loans approach 20% annually, and the length of the loans is limited to one year.
Loan repayment funds are kept in our Rwandan bank account (in the name of our employee Frank Mutesa) to be used to help fund future projects. Loan repayment following the established business plan serves to help train the Twisungane cooperative members in the skills needed to develop and run future profitable businesses. The goal is for the cooperative to be able to succeed in their businesses without any help from TFH, one day soon.
Currently, Twisungane cooperative members have two income producing projects. They have a motorcycle taxi business and a goat raising business. We are in discussions with them to loan funds for another motorcycle for the taxi business and have extended the repayment time by one year for the goats’ loans. We are also in discussions with them about developing a garment-making and tailoring business plan.
The motorcycle business is doing very well, and the loan is being repaid properly. Current plans are to loan the funds for a second motorcycle when the group has repaid one-half of the present loan. Half of those funds will come from our Rwandan bank account which the farmers paid into to repay their first loan. We extended the time for the farmers to repay the loans for the goats because of the negative financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the farmers. This will allow the goat populations to increase for another twelve months making repayment much easier for the farmers.
February starts agriculture season B, which is characterized by moderate rainfalls. Crops that do not need a lot of water are mostly cultivated. Farmers were shown how to use effective systems of cultivation in case they meet demanding situations like heavy rainfalls or less than expected rainfall. These systems included, mulching, intercropping, ridges, and furrows, digging water reservoirs, integrated soil fertility management, weeding techniques done on time, use of pesticides and small-scale irrigation methods.
Many of them are cultivating beans during this season. They also have banana in their fields. Frank discovered that they do not manage properly their banana plantings. Frank visited their farms and give them technical support on how to work / manage their banana plantings and, to show them how to do proper intercropping as well.
Planning Clean Water Issues and Proposed Projects
Twisungane committee members and Frank concluded that as soon as the Madidrops are available we will at once start the clean water trials.
We evaluated ongoing projects and discussed the way forward for other business ideas and projects that can be introduced in the future.
The way forward
Life for Twisungane cooperative is now promising because they have reached the mutual understanding that, they must work together and joining their efforts in planning for the future without fear of starting something new. They are waiting for the chance to expand their businesses.