" Co-operatives contribute greatly in economic empowerment of the country – they help create jobs for the people". By Anca Voinea

Rwanda’s trade and industry minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye has paid visits to three co-operatives in Kigali,  praising their transparent management and sustainable growth.

The minister, on a tour to learn what co-ops are doing and how the government can support them, said they showed that people could achieve more by working together.

Her tour included Icyerekezo-Gatsata, a co-op of car service workers which formed in 2008 so it could acquire modern commercial buildings to replace the team’s old base in a wetlands area, where they had been at risk of flooding.

The enterprise currently includes 99 members who operate a four-storey building with 88 rooms, and a three-storey building with 132 rooms.

Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye with members of car service co-op Icyerekezo-Gatsata

The minister also visited wood and handcraft co-op Adarwa and a transport co-op Coctramvk.

« Co-operatives contribute greatly in economic empowerment of the country, » said Ms Hakuziyaremye. « They help create jobs for the people.

« Their contribution toward achieving the development goals, such as poverty reduction, is paramount. You cannot fight poverty without saving. Through co-operatives, people are encouraged to embrace the savings culture. »

She added: « Our purpose is to have all people join co-operatives to share experiences and benefits, among others. »

The minister said the co-ops on her itinerary had transparent and accountable management, could grow in a sustainable manner, and set a good example for non-performing co-ops.

On 14-17 October, Rwanda hosts the International Co-operative Alliance’s annual conference and general assembly, which will focus on the role of co-ops in driving sustainable development.