Saturday, November 6, 2010

Micro Loans for Motorcycle Taxi Riders in Rwanda ...

[A motor taxi waiting for a passenger ........... A matatu passing by ............ Sameer, Simon and me]

On Thursday, November 4th, UOB signed a Tripartite Agreement with Sameer Hussein S.A. and FERWACOTAMO. Sameer Hussein is the largest motorcycle dealer in Rwanda with an 85% market share. FERWACOTAMO is the largest motorcycle taxi association in Rwanda with 8,000 motorcycle taxi riders throughout Rwanda. Pastor Simon is the President of FERWACOTAMO.

In Rwanda, you can ride a motorcycle taxi (called "Ipikipiki" in Kinyarwanda - photo) to quickly move from one place to another. It is a public transportation. The riders are wearing either a green jacket or a blue jacket with a helmet on. The passengers have to wear helmets too. (It is quite impressive, compared to chaotic disorder in other African countries... no helmet, no rule, no uniform.) Regular commercial taxi is prohibitively expensive to Rwandans and minibus taxis (called "Matatu" in Kinyarwanda - photo) are too infrequent and too crowded.

Motor taxi is a micro business, earning a gross income of RWF10,000 or $17 and netting $7.00 a day. Approximately 60% of these motor taxi riders are renting the motorcycles from private individuals or institutions because they cannot afford to own.

Thus, we have reached an agreement to offer a motorcycle loan program to these riders under special arrangements. FERWACOTAMO will verify and recommend the prospective riders and set aside a certain amount of money as a loan guarantee fund. For this service, the bank will pay a referral fee to FERWACOTAMO so that the association may be able to afford the administrative expenses.

I am excited that many motorcycle taxi riders will now have an opportunity to own their own motorcycles in a year or so, thereby graduating from chronic poverty faster than before. As a side benefit, all motorcycle taxis will carry the UOB logo on their front license plate spots since Rwanda does not require license plates on the fronts. I envision thousands of motorcycles will carry the UOB logo on their motorcycles, promoting the bank for helping them out. Praise the Lord! - Jeffrey

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