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The establishment of microfinance academies underlines the goal of professionalising the microfinance sector and SACCOs (Savings and Credit Cooperatives) as well as to strengthen finance knowledge for Micro- small and medium enterprises.
Together with our partner organisations, Sparkassenstiftung in Easter Africa supports academies in Burundi (RIM Acacemy), Rwanda (RICEM), Tanzania (SCCULT) Uganda (UCSCU Academy).
For these academies several modules and training curricula have been and are constantly developed. The curricula focuses on objectives like developing financial, business, and managerial knowledge. Additionally, the dual apprenticeship system has been introduced for young professionals.
The target groups are owners, managers and employees of microfinance institutions, cooperatives, and enterpreneurs. Among the latter target group, even households and micro businesses shall be included; hence some of the academies mentioned above are offering financial education related courses alongside with entrepreneurial courses. Sparkassenstiftung promotes financial education related courses for trainers and beneficiaries within the certified Business Games such as Savings Games, Farmers Business Games, and Micro Business Games.
In the long term, the academies will increase the development of institutions in the microfinance sector though higly skilled staff members who are able to deal with up-to-date technologies, strategic and operational procedures as well as management concepts.
For the target group of entrepreneurs, attendance in the academies´ courses will generate new jobs by increasing the employability of individuals, by facilitating them to become a successful entrepreneur and job-creator and by strengthening their managerial know-how to ultimately improve living conditions.
Since 2012, Sparkassenstiftung in Burundi has been partnering with RIM (Réseau des Institutions de Microfinance) to enhance the professionalism of the microfinance sector in Burundi. Sparkassenstiftung supports the project partner in various areas such as the establishment of a microfinance academy. The aim of the academy is to provide regular professional trainings for employees of microfinance institutions as well as entrepreneurs in general. Thus, it contributes to the improvement of high quality and systematic capacity development of the microfinance sector and entrepreneurs in Burundi.
Several steps including a training need assessment conduction and the development and validation of modules have been taken. Since 2019, two modules have been validated. Current priorities are to enlarge the team of evaluation experts, validation of the five remaining modules and recruiting trainers.
Sparkassenstiftung has played a great role in supporting the establishment of a vocational training centre named Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM). This project contributes to the systematization and quality improvement of vocational business training in Rwanda. The project started in 2012 and focuses on training needs in Rwanda but is also inspired by the German system of Dual Vocational training and the highly qualified vocational degree programmes offered by academies of German Sparkassen. In the long term, the vision is to become a vocational centre of excellence for the entire Eastern African region working in close collaboration with governments and national associations.
Several steps have been achieved so far, including development of forty-four modules for its three pillars of Microfinance, Cooperatives and Entrepreneurship, conduction of short-term trainings in the districts especially in loan management, effective governance, and customer relationship management. RICEM was supported by Sparkassenstiftung to develop and submit six curricula for its Dual Apprenticeship training program for accreditation and is paving the way to start long-term accredited courses and certificates. Two groups of young professionals have already completed all modules for the Dual Apprenticeship system since 2017.
Currently, Sparkassenstiftung is in the initial stage of planning to set up a demand-oriented academy for Lifelong-Learning (LLL) that matches adult education, (re-)training and qualification needs, especially for the SACCOs in Tanzania. In cooperation with our partners Tanzania Cooperative Development Commission (TCDC) and Savings and Credit Co-Operative Union League of Tanzania (SCCULT) , Sparkassenstiftung is planning to set up a training academy for SACCOs including several regional centres to increase the reach of the trainings. One important part of the support by Sparkassenstiftung is the development of curricula for the academy. The Dual Apprenticeship System will be introduced as it could be a demand-oriented and feasible approach to capacity development in Tanzania´s microfinance sector after establishing the academy.
The academy in Uganda is still in its initial stage: Sparkassenstiftung Uganda is supporting the foundation of a training academy for its partner UCSCU (Uganda Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions). UCSCU´s core mandate is to provide education, training, and technical assistance towards SACCOs for their growth and sustainability. The overall purpose of the academy is to provide a one stop centre for the provision of high-quality specialised education, excellence training and technical services to the microfinance sector and especially the SACCOs in Uganda. One objective is to introduce the Dual Apprenticeship System for the first time to Uganda´s microfinance sector. Sparkassenstiftung supports UCSCU in the development of a strategic and business plan. Additionally, future training curricula will be developed.