Deputy governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, describes herself as a monetary policymaker, a financial sector regulator and an advocate for women’s inclusion in the economy.
“As monetary authority,” she explains, “our role is to ensure the stability of the currency and general level of prices for goods and services; in other words, our role is to ensure moderate inflation that does not undermine the purchasing power of the citizens and discourage them from saving and investing.”
As a regulator, she continues, they license and supervise banks, insurance companies, pension schemes, microfinance institutions including savings and credit cooperatives, and other financial players such as operators of payments systems and providers of digital financial services including mobile money issuers. This is to make sure these companies have enough capital buffers and adequate liquidity to back their operations and to ensure they play according to the rules of the game.
“In other words, we are a guarantor to the citizens, that their interests in/with those companies are well safeguarded. But we call ourselves a developmental regulator in the sense that we have a mandate to promote financial inclusion for all (access and usage of a diverse range of financial services that are affordable, innovative and responsibly provided).
“To this effect, we conduct financial education campaigns, we engage financial services providers to offer better products and step up their capacity to serve underprivileged market segments, we ensure consumer protection, to name but a few.”
As she reflects on life experience and the challenge of leadership, Monique says she has come to realise that the policy issues policy makers are grappling with to improve the quality of life of the citizens are fundamentally the same across societies, and call for a collective and coordinated response. This includes both public players and private ones.
“A second learning I’ve had has been the power of networking. There is a lot of good will out there; people with ideas, experience, connections, and solutions. These are the same people ready to listen and be inspired by one’s ideas and actions as well.”
Getting to meet these resources opens doors and creates synergies for the good of all parties involved, she believes, and working in isolation is in a way a loss of these opportunities.
“When human hearts and minds connect, a lot stands to happen. Never feel that investing time and money in networking is a wasteful act.”
The last “but not least” observation she’s made during her time in office so far refers to “the power of rhetoric or the narrative”.
“Some individuals or institutions tend to neglect communicating about who they are and what they stand for or are doing. Yet this is important, if anything, to attract the attention of potential supporters and useful alliances. It also contributes to building a solid brand, which in the end is a major motivating factor for your team players or collaborators.”
Away from the office, this mother of three says she tries to create as many “me-time moments” as possible.
“This basically means thinking about myself—how I can stay physically, emotionally and spiritually fit. I exercise two to three times a week, go for a massage once a week, attend church activities, and so on. In the limited time I have available, I make sure I create quality time with my family, and enjoy being a mother and a wife.
“I also use the time to attend meetings of different committees I am a member of, for example in my neighbourhood, at church, and in women’s groups. It is almost a routine that I will be having a committee meeting twice a week on average.”
When asked what she recalls most about her time spent at Stellenbosch University, she answers that it would have to be babies.
“People used to joke about me, that they didn’t know me in another shape except being pregnant or having a little baby. In fact, in two years of my master’s, I made two babies. But these have been the most cherished moments for my husband and I.
“They are the moments we got to live together and be on our own without having aids around. We shared chores, alternated to take our first-born to or pick him from the kindergarten, etc. We also enjoyed true friendship and support from classmates, people at the International Office, and neighbours because of our status as new parents.”
While Monique has several big projects coming up, there is one in particular that she feels passionate about.
“I’m very excited about a women’s investment fund I’m working on. This is a flagship project commissioned by the network of women in finance in Rwanda that I lead.
“The fund is aimed to be issued on the Rwanda Capital Market soon, and it is highly likely that it will be the first of its kind, whereby women will put their skin to the game by investing in an instrument that seeks to contribute to solving financial access issues for other women.”
- By Steyn du Toit -