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Epiphany became the main caregiver for her two younger sisters at the age of 13 Credit: Trócaire

Women's Empowerment

Savings groups empowering young Rwandan women like Epiphany to build a brighter future

Following the sudden death of her parents, 13-year-old Epiphany was forced to leave school to care for her two younger sisters. Epiphany decided that starting her own business would be the best way to help her family flourish. Read about her inspiring journey here.

Finding ways to earn money proved challenging for Epiphany who struggled to adapt to her new role as provider and carer for her younger sisters.

The 18-year-old, from the village of Gikunguin the Nyamagabe District of southern Rwanda, had the ambition, but no capital or access to a loan to support her.

Many others in the village shared the same hopes.

There aren’t many opportunities for girls in Rwanda. Epiphany received some financial assistance from the government, but she also farmed the small piece of land left by her parents and worked as a farmhand for other families. Unfortunately, all of this combined still didn’t cover basic living needs.

However, through ongoing community mobilisation, three Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) were formed in the area. Epiphany was lucky enough to be selected as a participant for the savings group.

After joining the VSLA, Epiphany took out a small loan of €14 which she used to buy Irish potato seeds, a piglet to help her with manure, and avocados to sell for a profit. Selling the avocados helped her to fully pay back her loan. After the first month, she earned €15 and was able to add other varieties of fruits to her small business and increase her shares in the saving group.

Being part of the VSLA has transformed her life and afforded her new opportunities!

“I have realised that there are so many opportunities through the saving group. I have learnt that even saving 9 cents can help me achieve something big over time,” said Epiphany.

Epiphany is now happily waiting for the harvest of her potatoes so that she can earn more money. She is excited about the new opportunities which have opened up to her since joining the VSLA. Her dream is to start a piggery project and to purchase a cow in the second cycle of her VSLA.

With your support, Trócaire is helping to build a brighter future for people like Epiphany in Rwanda. We help people earn better incomes and grow more food. We help women, men and young people become more resilient. We also help people overcome trauma and build a future of peace and hope.

The VSLA project was supported by Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) and implemented by Trócaire in partnership with BIOCOOR, UNICOOPAGI and ICRAF, with the aim to empower and support communities insouthern Rwanda.

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