The Economy Of Rwanda Is Being Revived By Women

The civil war in Rwanda resulted in the slaughtering of its Tutsi minority, as well as many moderate members of its majority, the Hutu, in 1994. Around 800,000 are estimated to have died in the genocide.

"In the 14 years since the genocide, when 800,000 people died during three months of violence, this country has become perhaps the world's leading example of how empowering women can fundamentally transform post-conflict economies and fight the cycle of poverty," according to a recent article in the Washington Post. "That is particularly clear here in Maraba, a southern village where a host of women -- largely relegated to backbreaking field work in the days before the genocide -- found unwanted opportunity in the fertile lands they would inherit from slaughtered husbands, fathers and brothers."

Maraba's women "showed more willingness than men, officials here said, to embrace new techniques aimed at improving quality and profit. Now, Maraba's female farmers are outdoing their male counterparts in both, numbering about half of all farmers in the village's coffee cooperative but producing 90 percent of its finest quality beans for export," according to the article.

Many microfinance companies focus on lending to women, because women tend to reinvest profits from their businesses into things such as food, education and their communities.

The march of female entrepreneurialism, playing out here and across Rwanda in industries from agribusiness to tourism, has proved to be a windfall for efforts to rebuild the nation and fight poverty. Women more than men invest profits in the family, renovate homes, improve nutrition, increase savings rates and spend on children's education, officials here said," according to the article. "It speaks to a seismic shift in gender economics in Rwanda's post-genocide society, one that is altering the way younger generations of males view their mothers and sisters while offering a powerful lesson for other developing nations struggling to rebuild from the ashes of conflict."

For more on microfinance, see Microfinance Institution Reviews. For more on women as entrepreneurs, see Women in Business.

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