Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR) and Media High Council (MHC) have, on this Thursday, 14th June 2018, trained Journalists from various Media Houses in Rwanda on “Consumer Protection and Education in the Microfinance Sector.”
The training is part of the AMIR’s Program campaign on Responsible Finance through Local Leadership and Learning Program which has the overall objective of scaling the application of consumer protection principles for low income financial services customers in Rwanda.
AMIR is the only umbrella body for microfinance institutions in Rwanda that seeks to build a flourishing microfinance sector in Rwanda through different areas of Advocacy and Information, Research and Development, Responsible Finance, Performance Monitoring and Capacity Building. Currently, AMIR has 331 active members, serving poor and middle class families throughout the country.
Speaking at the official opening of the training, Jackson Kwikiriza, the AMIR Senior Programs Manager, said that “As the number of Microfinance Institutions is increasing, it is time also to start raising awareness on clients protection while at the same time taking the ownership of microfinance services to both service providers and clients as well.”
Kwikiriza added that “There is a need for the mutual relationship between the client and the Bank. Responsible finance means to give the ownership of the financial services to clients.”
“As we move ahead, we are asking the media to help us raise awareness on this issue. Media plays a key role in mobilizing and sensitizing Citizens on various issues, so we need your involvement in this campaign,” He said.
Rwanda has over 470 Microfinance Institutions which include Credits and Savings Cooperatives commonly known as SACCO(s), Microfinance LTD Companies and Banks, Cooperatives among others.
The Microfinance sector contributes at least 60% to the country’s economic growth. “It is for this reason that AMIR also is urging all stakeholders to use the potential of this sector while at same time providing Good services to clients.”
Straton Habyalimana, the Senior Programs Manager of the Responsible Finance through Local Leadership and Learning (RFL3) program highlighted that the program has seven principles which include, Appropriate Products Design and Delivery, Mechanisms for complaint resolution, Privacy of client data, Fair and respectful treatments of clients, responsible pricing, Transparency and Prevention of over indebtedness.
Commenting on Mechanisms for complaint resolutions for instance, Habyalimana noted “Client should be aware of contract principles for example. First he should not sign a contract before having all information regarding the content.”
He also added that the banks should avoid all forms of discriminations in financial sector saying that “It is in principles that banks should avoid unfair treatment of the client because of her/his financial status or social backgrounds.”
Coming to Client data privacy, Habyalimana said “Banks should keep secret of all information provided by the client and help the clients to avoid unsecure transactions.”
However also on Journalists Code of ethics in financial reporting, Ibambe Jean Paul, Legal Officer at Rwanda Media Commission reminded the Media that “Citizens have right to get accurate information reported following the professional principles which guide Journalists in Rwanda.”
He urged Journalists to make a thorough investigation and make critical analysis before disseminating the information to Public.
Ibambe, however, commended the reporting skills improvement since the Rwanda Media Commission was set up.
Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) is the institution responsible for Media Self-Regulation in Rwanda.
Concluding the training, Peacemaker Mbungiramihigo, the Executive Secretary of Media High Council requested the trained Journalists to uphold the Journalism values while contributing the acquired knowledge to development of financial sector in Rwanda.
He added that “The Media High Council will continue to work together with the financial institution to equip Journalists with necessary skills in financial reporting as well as in other sectors.”