Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alliance Agreement with SURF Rwanda Signed...

On June 30th, Thursday, Gabo Wilson of SURF Rwanda and I signed an MoU to collaborate in providing assistance for the 1994 genocide survivors.

SURF Rwanda stands for Rwandan Survivors Fund. It was founded in 1997 to help survivors of the Rwandan genocide deal with and recover from the tragedies of 1994. It has been supporting a wide range of services for victims in Rwanda, and assisting survivors in the UK.

Funded by a variety of organisations and individuals, SURF acts as a channel to distribute financial assistance to groups, individuals and charitable organisations in the day-to-day operations of bringing the people of Rwanda hope, safety, and a decent standard of living.

A veteran in dealing with the issues effecting the survivors, SURF holds the belief that support must address the host of difficulties and issues facing victims. Any one angle of assistance on its own, be it medical, economic or social, would be an incomplete answer. SURF provides an appropriate and integrated response to the needs of Rwandan survivors by supporting numerous projects geared at confronting the diversity of their needs.

This alliance is centering around providing micro credits and appropriate training for SURF Rwanda's clients (1994 genocide survivors) who have been on its program for some time to be able to graduate to a sustainable and commercial level of micro finance. SURF Rwanda will establish a couple of funds for this purpose, totaling $60,000 that could increase upon satisfactory performance, and its mature clients will be placed on this program to graduate to become self-reliant.

Both UOB and SURF Rwanda share the same vision of holistic transformation in the lives of Rwandan poor and look forward to their collaboration. - Jeffrey

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Evidence of Faith Required

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

It is so true that we are saved by His grace and through our faith.

But, genuine faith is evident in his or her life. In other words, faith that does not show its evidence in his or her life may not be genuine. I am not trying to be judgmental, but I will have a reason to ask why.

I have watched this video clip of Paul Washer's message that is hitting the nail right on its head. He spoke this shockingly biblical message to youth in 2002 and his message carries a clear truth to many Christians to date.

Here is Paul's bio.

Paul Washer became a believer while studying at the University of Texas. He completed his undergraduate studies and enrolled at Southwestern Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree. After graduating, he moved to Peru and served there as a missionary.

Paul ministered as a missionary in Peru for 10 years, during which time he founded the HeartCry Missionary Society to support Peruvian church planters. HeartCry's work now supports over 100 indigenous missionaries in over 20 countries throughout Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Paul now serves as one of the laborers with the HeartCry Missionary Society ( He and his wife Charo have three children: Ian, Evan, and Rowan.

I pray that you will be challenged and blessed by this message. There are three clips on youtube, which make up the message. - Jeffrey

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Annual Report for UOB plus many more...

[The first annual report for UOB..............................With Suzie after we gave her a photo frame that had a farewell message "We all will miss you, even the lizards on the walls will miss you." She burst into tears.]

For the first time for UOB, we published its annual report for 2010. The theme for 2010 was "Arise and Shine" based on Isaiah 60:1. So the annual report carried this theme on its cover. On the back, it stated our declaration as "Christ-centered and Client-focused" organization. We are proud of the fine work that our staff produced without professional help.

Also, we have composed and produced a UOB song that is quite rhythmical. People like it and we hope to see this song sung by our staff and clients. It carries a gospel message in identifying who we are.

UOB has also produced its first portfolio folder that may be used in presenting its materials to donors and visitors. It may also be used for presenting to prospective institutional clients. Surely it will make our presentation more professional.

In addition, we are in the process of producing UOB Intro Video plus its Welcome Kit that includes UOB's history, statistics, mission, vision and values. All these, we trust, will gain respect and recognition from visitors on what we do in Christ's name.

For all these upgrading efforts, I must recognize three individuals: Suzie Hofert, Daniel Ryumugabe and Shami Mugisha.

Suzie is a volunteer from the U.S. She has been at the center of coordinating all the efforts in producing these marketing and promotional materials. She mobilized all possible resources to get the job done, including her parents. She also taught English to our staff. All her class students appreciated her efforts and expressed their appreciation with several gifts. June 30th is the last day for her 6-month volunteering and we wish her the best.

Daniel is Director of Transformational Impact. He has been involved in editing the contents and providing direction for Suzie's work with Welcome Kit, portfolio folder and annual report.

Shami is Manager of Marketing. He designed the annual report's graphics and produced the UOB Song with his own initiative.

We at UOB are so grateful to God for all these committed people whom He has provided for us and we are privileged to work with them.

Praise the Lord! - Jeffrey

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Surrender to the Holy Spirit...

On Sunday, June 26th, I had the privilege of preaching at St. Etien Cathedral where I worship. I am one of a couple of lay preachers who take turn in sharing God's word.

Today, my message centered around God's plan for sending the Holy Spirit to His people.

The coming of the Holy Spirit may have been a surprise to the Jews, but it was according to God's perfect plan. After the original Passover in Egypt for the Exodus, it took the Israelites 50 days until they arrived at Mt. Horeb to receive the Ten Commandments through Moses. Even now, the Jews celebrate the 49-day Refinement Steps until the day of celebrating the receipt of Ten Commandments.

It was not a coincidence that the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 saints on the day of Pentecost, the 50th day from the Passover. It was God's plan to send His Spirit to dwell in His people after His Son Jesus completed the redemptive sacrifice on behalf of all humanity, once for all. The Law was succeeded by God's grace through Christ's redemption and it was followed by the coming of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, the saints.

The Holy Spirit empowers God's people to be His witness. (Acts 1:8), The Holy Spirit enlightens us as He, the Spirit of Truth, teaches us and helps us remember all the teachings of Jesus. (John 14:26) The Holy Spirits convicts us when we are in sin and comforts us through God's grace and mercy. The Holy Spirit intercedes us even when we do not know what to pray. (Romans 8:26)
The Holy Spirit is clearly a gift from God as the evidence of our salvation, the restored relationship between the Creator God and us, the sinners, but forgiven sinners. (Acts 2:38) It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that God the Father provides for His people by His sovereign power. What a privilege!

According to 2 Corinthians 6:19,20, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is a progressive transition from the Old Testament temple where the God's presence was at the Holy of the Holy at the Temple. When Jesus came to earth in human flesh, He described himself to be the temple. When He surrendered His life into the hands of the Father on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn into two pieces, thus allowing for direct access by His people to God the Father through their Chief Priest, Jesus Christ. Now God's presence is in the bodies of His people. Since our bodies were bought at a price, we ought to honor God with our own bodies.

The best way to honor God is worship. A worship offered in truth and spirit is a spiritual act of worship and it is offering our bodies as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1) Offering our bodies as living sacrifices means crucifying ourselves to the cross. It requires us to surrender our lives to the authority and power of the Holy Spirit in every moment of our lives. It then helps us achieve practical righteousness and personal holiness, through what is called sanctification.

When we surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit to a full extent, we are under the total influence of the Holy Spirit. It is the filling of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23) Through these experiences, we become more like Christ little by little.

2 Corinthians 7:1 urges us to perfect holiness by purifying ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit. Would it be ever possible that we perfect holiness? Philippians 1:6 says so. He who began the good work in us will complete it until the day of our Lord's return.

Paul encouraged and prayed for the saints at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as follows:

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

May this be my and your prayer! May we continue to seek God's favor in our unceasing effort to perfect holiness through our total surrender to the authority and power of the Holy Spirit until the day of the Lord. Amen! - Jeffrey

Friday, June 24, 2011

Musanze Branch Grand Opening

[The venue for grand opening.... UOB's New Musanze Branch .... Tape cutting by Northern Province Governor, BNR representative and Branch Leader]

[Note of Thanks to all guests ... Northern Province Traditional Dance .... With Bishop Rucyahana, Bishop Laurent Mbanda, good friends of mine]

On Friday, June 24th, we held the Grand Opening ceremony of UOB's Musanze Branch.

Before the ceremony, we campaigned in the city of Ruhengeri, Musanze District's capital city, with roller bladers and motor cycles. A truck carrying a large speaker made a noise with UOB song and other songs.

Our ceremony was represented by the Northern Province Governor, National Bank of Rwanda, Musanze District, Bishop John Rucyahana and Bishop Laurent Mbanda, the bishop for Shyrah Diocese of the Rwanda Anglican Church. The ceremony included traditional dance and music by professional dancers unique to the northern province. Also there were many guests, including clients like Antoinnette. She started banking with UOB in 2002 with a small borrowing of Rwf20,000 or $35. In less than 10 years she now borrows Rwf10,000,000 or $17,000. What an economic transformation she has achieved! We were proud of her and she was grateful to God who enabled her and to UOB that has provided support when she needed.

Musanze Branch is one of the largest and best branches that UOB has. It will serve UOB's clients in several districts in and nearby Musanze District, including Ruvabu and Burera. Recently, UOB made the first agricultural input financing to Irish potato farmers in Musanze. It was agreed that will continue to explore additional collaboration opportunities with the Northern Province Governor. We praised the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness. - Jeffrey

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rwanda National Agricultural Show...

[Left: Jean de Dieu, Agric Finance Officer (left) and a staff holding the award received from the Ministry of Agriculture]
[Right: Our staff together with the KOABIKI team, growing Irish potatoes that UOB financed]

Rwanda's Ministry of Agriculture hosts a national agricultural show for a week or so. This is the place where all stakeholders to Rwanda's agricultural sector gather together to exhibit, share and learn from each other.

In 2011, this agricultural show took place from June 6th through 12th at the Mulindi Exhibition Center. This year UOB was one of the sponsors along with seven large corporate sponsors and the only bank that sponsored the event. UOB set up a booth and talked to people who are interested in agricultural finance.

At this show, KOABIKI, a cooperative growing Irish potatoes in Musanze, a northern district, was exhibiting the Irish potatoes that they are growing. KOABIKI has 47 members and UOB made its first agricultural financing for them. It was a great reward feeling for us.

The Ministry of Agriculture gave UOB an award for its commitment to the agricultural finance and its quality service. We praised the Lord in appreciation! - Jeffrey

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Micro Insurance Launched Finally...

On June 1st, UOB launched the long-waited micro insurance product... finally! It is the first micro insurance product launched in Rwanda.

The first micro insurance product that was launched was Enhanced Credit Life. A typical credit life insurance provides protection against the death of a borrower and pays off any debt outstanding. Normally this product is available only to the well-off. The micro insurance product is available to all the group loan borrowers.

In micro insurance, there is no medical check-up and everything is applied based on the information disclosed by the insured. Even when a claim is made, it follows a streamlined method for prompt payment.

Micro insurance is made available through a business model that has primarily three components: Front Office, Back Office and Risk Carrier. In UOB's case, it is a little more complex with arrangements among UOB, MicroEnsure, SORAS and Hollard. Micro Ensure is the world's largest micro insurance broker, a member of Opportunity International Network, and provides the product design, administration and claim handling. SORAS is the second largest insurance company in Rwanda and provides the legal platform. Hollard is a South African insurance company that undertakes all the risks related to this transaction through a joint venture with Micro Ensure.

It is an Enhanced Credit Life insurance product, because:

1. it provides not only the payoff of any outstanding loan, but also funeral benefits for the remaining family if a borrower passes;
2. it also provides the funeral benefits on the deaths of a borrower's spouse and of up to four children;
3. it also provides a coverage on business properties when lost through fire.

UOB is also exploring the possibility of developing an insurance-tied savings product, an enhanced health insurance, mobile-banking-tied life insurance.
Micro Ensure has developed also Weather-Indexed Crop Insurance product in cooperation with Ministry of Agriculture of Rwanda. UOB has been actively involved in the product design and implementation phases.

We praised the good Lord who continues to use UOB as an instrument to bless the underprivileged people of Rwanda. - Jeffrey

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Loan Agreement Signing with IFC...

On May 26th, UOB signed a loan agreement to receive $2.5 million from International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of World Bank group. It is known to be a privilege in the micro finance industry that an MFI receives a loan or an investment from IFC since its due diligence process is pretty challenging and IFC normally provides subsequent technical assistance (TA) support after a loan and/or an equity investment. Indeed, it took more than 10 months until it came to fruition.

It is the first case in Rwanda for any financial institution to receive a local currency funding from IFC and also is the first case within the Opportunity International network.

With the loan, UOB will be able to expand its service to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly in the rural areas.

At the signing ceremony, the Minister of Trade and Industry Francois Kanimba and the Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda Ambassador Claver Gatete were present. During the key note speech, Honorable Minister Kanimba said, "Rwandan Government named 2011 "The Year of SMEs." With the additional resources available from IFC, the SMEs will surely benefit, particularly in the rural areas."

Jeffrey Lee said, "UOB is a leader in micro finance, using proven methodologies as well as efficient and affordable technology solutions. With the additional resources, UOB will be able to facilitate its outreach to the under-banked and under-served clientele in remote areas."

We praised the Lord for His ample provision of financial resources for UOB to help the underprivileged people of Rwanda.

Also IFC signed an agreement jointly with Business Partners International, a South African SME lender, and Rwanda Enterprise Investment Cooperative (REIC) to support the SME industry. - Jeffrey