Empowering Rwandan women in microfinance

Here’s a great blog post from Jeffrey Lee, the CEO of Urwego Opportunity Bank in Rwanda. The majority of the bank’s clients and employees are women. Read the original blog post here.

In Rwanda, gender equality is real. For example, more than 50 percent of the Rwandan senators are women. The chief justice is a woman. Approximately 40 percent of the state ministers are women, including the ministers of agriculture, of trade, of foreign affairs. Indeed, women are empowered in Rwanda.

At Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB) we are also empowering women in several ways. To name a couple, more than 90 percent of our clients are women and 55 percent of our staff are women.

Recently, Alice Gasatura (pictured at left), director of credit support, was on a three-week tour to the US as part of the fund raising team of Opportunity International-US. She shared her life story as well as the client transformation stories. She visited Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Seattle; Los Angeles; Dallas; Atlanta and more. She is one of the most senior women on staff at UOB and she was the first female staff member to travel to the U.S. as an ambassador of UOB.

We have also sent five middle management female staff (pictured at left) to a month-long training session in Nairobi, Kenya. This training was sponsored by Goldman Sachs as part of its campaign to develop 10,000 Women entrepreneurs in developing countries. During their training period, they learned 23 management topics on microfinance.

They will be deployed, along with other staff who have been trained elsewhere, to share their knowledge with their colleagues through the UOB Academy to be established in 2011. I hope to see more women empowered to carry out important tasks in Rwanda going forward, not only at UOB, but also among our clients.