Members of the savings and credit groups in Free Methodist Church, Nzove Parish, have revealed that the use of DreamSave application has benefited them through work improvement, time management as well as facilitating the work compared to the traditional working environment when they had to record saving data manually.
It is almost seven years since the Free Methodist Church in Rwanda, especially the Kigali Conference, Nzove Parish established Saving and Credit groups in partnership with Hope International.
This program is aimed at helping members to make spiritual progress through sharing the word of God; promoting a better relationship by supporting each other in various circumstances and easing access to finance through microloans.
In recent years they were using notebooks to record each member’s contribution as well as each one having his/her own booklet filled with information about the saving performance.
In line with the global trend towards the use of technology, ‘Abari mu rugendo B’ Saving and Credit group, Nzove Parish (Free Methodist Church) has been given a Dreamsave phone application to replace the traditional way of recording savings and credits among group members, thanks to Hope International support.
As explained by Muvara Thomas, Coordinator of the Saving and Credit groups in the Methodist Church in Rwanda, Dreamsave has eased the work of Groups if you compare with the past.
Muvara made the remarks when the management of Hope International visited the beneficiaries at Nzove Parish in Nyarugenge District on October,28.
“Dreamsave is a smartphone app that makes it easier to work with Saving and Credit Groups than before where they used to make more mistakes as a result of handwriting when they were recording saving and credit data.” Muvara explains.
It started to be used last year and impacts are very promising.
Hope International has started to examine how the app can be extended to other groups after app deployment to about 250 Saving and Credit who have now graduated from the Hope International sponsorship program.
Akingeneye Jeannette, a representative of the group, who lives in Nzove Cell, Kanyinya Sector, said that initially using Dreamsave was a challenge to them but as time went on, they became accustomed to it and found it very useful.
“When we started using Dreamsave I was a group leader. It was my first time using a smartphone. It used to be boring at first but I got used to it well. It is very useful for us because it has eased our group work which is very different to the past where someone would have a headache because of the calculation of the shares of each member, loans and so on using what I would call a traditional method.” Akingeneye explains.
This is also confirmed by Rimenyurifite Jean Bosco, an assistant to the savings groups working in the Nzove Parish where about 15 groups of 3271 members are operating.
“When we got Dreamsave technology we started to benefit a lot. This app helped us to a higher level. We took about three hours in a meeting but now it helps us work faster and the information is stored safely.” He said
“At the end of a group meeting each member is given a text message on her account performance” He added
The ‘Abari mu rugendo B’ Saving and Credit group consists of more than 40 members. It saves about one million Rwandan francs a month. The basic share is Rwf500, and the member is allowed up to 10 shares.
Diane Uwamahoro, Country Director of Hope International, also testified that the use of Dreamsave reduces errors in group documents and recorded information cannot be lost.
“Group documents sometimes had errors due to the level of learning that their members have. This app is to help them reduce the mistakes they make. Sometimes you could see tea had been spilled on their files, crushed or lost but even if the phone can be lost; the information is still there because it is stored on the internet. It can be retrieved as soon as another smartphone is available” Uwamahoro said
“They used to work for two hours and a half but now 45 minutes the group meeting is over so they are able to be back at home early and the time saved is used for other purposes.” She added.
Joining saving and credits groups has changed their lives
October 26-31 every year the world in general and Rwanda in particular celebrates a week dedicated to savings activities. This year’s theme is ‘Save Now for a Better Tomorrow’.
Working in groups is one of the tools that help low-income people to further work with financial institutions and banks.
The members of the saving groups have recorded positive impacts, according to Akingeneye Jeannette, who has been in the saving and credit group for six years.
“Before I couldn’t save money, when I tried, I immediately used it due to various family issues. I remember I had a coin box for saving but when I was running out of salt, I broke it immediately to buy it.” Akingeneye explained
“Since I started working in groups my story has changed. In the first phase, I bought a cow and sold it out to generate money which I used to buy a land parcel, and in the other phase I took out the money to renovate the house.” She added
COVID 19 Vs Saving and Credit Groups
While COVID 19 has destabilized the economy at all levels, Akingeneye assures that no member of the group would face the problem of a lack of sustenance, as his savings would support him.
In addition, all the money a person has can be saved in a group where everyone work depending on his or her ability while in the bank the less able can be embarrassed in front of the more able.
Applying for a loan in a group is easy to the extent that a member submits a file and receive a loan of at least Rwf250,000 the same day.
Sandrine Dusenge, Socio Economic Development Officer in Nzove Cell praised Hope International’s role in encouraging people to participate in savings.
“Saving alleviates us from poverty. We thank Hope International for helping us through the campaign. They remind us of the benefits of thinking about a better future. It’s not about saving money; it’s about forging for a better future.” She said
Hope International is a Christian organization working with churches including the Anglican Church, Free Methodist Church, ADEPR Church, Presbyterian Church and Baptist Church focusing on a holistic approach of obedience to Christ’s command to love our neighbor as well as to make disciples of all nations.
HOPE International provides discipleship opportunities, training, a safe place to save, and loans.
For more about Dreamsave app, here is the video: