By Kathrin Gerner, KF16, Rwanda

Group photo Kiva style: The "group leader" is raising his hand

Birthdays are celebrated around the world, and Rwanda – the tiny East African country of 1000 hills wedged between the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi – is no exception.

For its 5-year anniversary, the staff of Kiva’s field partner Amasezerano Community Bank (ACB) left its offices in Kigali for the shores of beautiful lake Kivu (unfortunately not named after Kiva) at the Congolese boarder. The trip was an occasion to remember key events in ACB’s history – mostly joyous, sometimes somber – but above all to celebrate.

Kathy Guis, Kiva Senior Field Support Specialist, aptly summarized ACB’s beginnings in an earlier blog: “After the horrific genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, an NGO called African Evangelical Enterprises-Rwanda (AEE) started offering material support—food, clothes, other necessary items, to the many widows and orphans that the genocide, and the civil war that preceded it, left in its wake. Eventually, AEE decided that lending money was a more sustainable way to empower Rwandans in need, and in 2006, Amasezerano Community Banking S.A. was born. Their name means promise, or, more precisely, covenant—their commitment to serving and empowering Rwandan people.”

Since its inception, ACB has grown at a remarkable rate. Blondel Tumaini, Director of Operations, credits ACB’s focus on agricultural loans. “We try hard to reach the underserved clients in the rural areas of Rwanda,” he says, “and we will continue to open more branches.” He adds that ACB’s success would not have been possible without the commitment of its staff.

ACB is in fact all about teamwork. The staff doesn’t only work together, but they pray together every morning, and they don’t miss an occasion to sing and dance together (with remarkable talent!). If you want proof, just take a look at the photo gallery below.

From your Kiva fellow, grateful to be allowed to become part of your team for a few short months, to everyone at ACB: Isabukuru Nziza! Bon Anniversaire! Happy Birthday!

Click to view slideshow.

Kathrin Gerner is a Kiva Fellow (KF16) at Amasezerano Community Banking (ACB) and Vision Finance Company (VFC) in Kigali, Rwanda. Having gotten a little too distracted by Rwanda’s beautiful sights and scenery as of late, she used a rainy afternoon to finally sit down and write this blog. To find out more about ACB, visit its Kiva partner page or the ACB website. Or show your support by lending to one of its borrowers or joining the ACB lending team!

Previous posts by Kathrin Gerner:
Paving the Way to the Future (Part 1): Bad Roads, Transportation Costs and Microfinance in Togo
Paving the Way to the Future (Part 2): Road Construction and Its Effects on Microfinance in Togo


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As the Field Support Specialist for Francophone Africa, Kathrin works with Kiva partners to make sure they get the most out of working with Kiva, and to ensure that Kiva responds effectively to partners' changing needs. Kathrin previously served as a Kiva Fellow Togo and Rwanda and holds a B.S. in International Trade & Finance. After working at Deloitte as a Senior Consultant for four years, she decided to leave the corporate world to spend a year exploring several countries in East Asia and Africa. Her journey has now led her to Kigali, Rwanda, where she is based when she is not visiting Kiva partners in Francophone Africa. Kathrin is fluent in German and French and she is currently working on her Kinyarwanda.
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