America had Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks, Europe had Joan of Arc and in Africa it was Winnie Mandela, the controversial but equally inspiring iconic figure of the apartheid era. She passed away this week at the ripe old age of 81.
Those were women who helped prove wrong the old myth that women were the weaker sex, clueless and hopeless in the absence of males.
Winnie was the epitome of strength and defiance despite her questionable moral issues that haunted her and nearly ruined her liberation posterity.
In Rwanda, women hold their own, they all see themselves in the images of Parks, Winnie or Joan of Arc because they have been conditioned to see things that way from an early age, have equal opportunities and are empowered.
When we look back at the female Mandela’s legacy, we should pride ourselves in the fact that our environment is creating thousands of Winnies, women who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts and can carry their own weight.
It is not feminism that this country is promoting as some wrongly think. The affirmative action that is in place is to counter centuries of prejudice, not make women super beings or better genetically. Those kinds of perceptions came out in social media a few months ago, generated a storm on twitter due to some young overzealous wannabe feminists.
A true feminist fights on the side of every gender, the same kind of fight Winnie Madikizela-Mandela fought. That is the legacy she has left, that no one will fight your fight, it will all have to begin with you firing the first shot, but in the right direction.
Microfinance bank to boost transport sector
A microfinance institution dedicated to the transport sector in the country will open in the next two months if everything goes as planned, according to an official with Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperatives (RFTC).
The proposed financial institution is one of the three components of a new company created by the federation, under the name, Jali Holding Limited.
The others include a real estate firm that will construct and maintain bus parks and related facilities around the country, while the last component will look at transport services as the core business of the company.
In an exclusive interview on Friday, Sam Byaruhanga the Executive Secretary of RFTC, told The New Times that the paper outlining the operations of the microfinance institution was recently finalised adding that they plan to start operations in two months.
“The microfinance bank will fund all operational activities, extend credit to members and employees to finance their income generating projects and will also fund the construction of houses for drivers which will be given to them on credit,” he said.
However, Byaruhanga, speaking on the margins of a cooperatives expo held in Kigali last week, could not immediately divulge details about the estimated costs.
He said that, under the new company, they will professionalise the transport sector and buy more buses to adequately serve the people, especially those in the City of Kigali.
“We shall increase the big buses on the principle routes such as the Kimironko-city centre, Masaka-Kabuga city centre among others,” he said, adding that they already started with importing some 20 buses with capacity to carry 60 passengers.
Byaruhanga said the buses will be fitted with cameras inside to monitor movement and avoid excesses by the drivers.
“The cameras will help us effectively monitor operations, drivers’ behaviors, and avert cheating by ensuring all passengers are accounted for which will definitely increase revenue,” he said adding that the other role the cameras will play is to ensure the safety of the passengers.
He noted that other operations to be financed by the microfinance institution include renovating the main bus terminals, such as those of Rubavu and Huye districts, plus the Nyabugogo main terminal in Kigali.
The official added there are currently about 1,300 people are employed by RFTC through permanent and part-time jobs adding that “we envisage an increase on the current workforce by 70 per cent.”
“The microfinance arm will start its operations from Kigali and progressively open branches in other parts of the country,” he said.
The move to upgrade RFTC into company was informed by the Rwf13 billion in equity accumulated by RFTC over the last six years from Rwf790 million in 2011.
With the new company and more services offered, they are targetting Rwf100 billion in equity in the next five years.
A starting capital of Rwf58 billion has already been approved for Jali Holding Limited operations for this year.
Speaking on Friday during the closing of the cooperatives’ exhibition, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka, urged cooperatives to ensure proper management so as to further growth.
“When cooperatives perform well and get good returns, they grow into companies and industries. A cooperative that grows well can invest in bigger businesses such as transport, agro-processing, among many others,” he said.
The minister said cooperatives created a platform to assess the issues of access to finance so as to accelerate cooperatives development.