Business people in Kigali on Friday handed over Frw 300 million to President Kagame to support his Girinka program which aims to empower vulnerable families. At the same time, they celebrated the first anniversary of his second mandate.
Through the event, organized by the Private Sector Federation, the business community wanted to express its gratitude for the efforts by the government to create a business-friendly environment, and also to exercise its corporate social responsibility.
Faustin Mbundu, the chairman of PSF, explained that the initiative had been taken by the business people themselves, and will be held annually happen to support one of the country’s development programs.
“Business people should be the engine of development,” Mbundu said. “This will be achieved through entrepreneurs’ efforts.”
He said the Frw 300 million would allow the Girinka program to hand out a further 1,000 cows, although Mbundu suggested that other types of animals might be given to those vulnerable families who think they can’t adequately take care of a cow.
The Girinka, or one-cow-per-family, program was initiated by President Kagame few years ago as one way to eradicate poverty, and as some of its beneficiaries testified on Friday, it has not missed its effect.
“I used to have a miserable life, but now I’ve got somewhere,” said Elevaniya Nyiramajyambere, a resident of Gahanga in Kicukiro district. She said that the cow had not only helped to improve her family’s daily life, but also allowed her to do some investment such as changing her grass-thatched house for a decent one, something she had never known before.
“I even started wondering: am I still Elevaniya?” she said with a choked voice. “I now get milk for drinking, I can afford to send my children to school and to pay health insurance scheme, as well as provide for other basic needs.”
For President Kagame, empowering vulnerable people to improve their life should be a duty to everyone since all people deserve a decent living. Otherwise, he said, it would be a great debt to vulnerable people if those who are better off do not support them. “This is the real understanding of the current Rwanda,” Kagame remarked.
As for the donation by the business community, the President pointed out that while it was an act of social responsibility, it also was in their own interest. “When you improve the lives of poor people, they might later become your customers,” Kagame said.
He also thanked the business community for the confidence they had showed in him. “You trusted me, and I will never cease to work to deserve that,” Kagame said. “The trust you conveyed to me is worth more than gold.”