Banks urged to support SMEs
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, has called on commercial banks that are expected to finance the Hanga Umurimo programme to be proactive in identifying business plans they are interested to fund, as there is little time left to the end of the project.
Hanga Umurimo is a programme initiated by government to reward prospective entrepreneurs with the best business plans, and it was introduced in the spirit of nurturing Small and Medium Enterprises, which are seen as key drivers of the economy.
Kanimba made the remarks on Friday during his meeting with representatives of the commercial banks, who wanted to update the ministry on the progress in financing people or companies that were linked to them.
“Banks should solve the internal bureaucracy and confirm which business plans they have decided on financing because we have little time left,” said Kanimba.
Under the programme, competitions for the best business plans were held countrywide and 20 business plans were chosen from each district.
In total, 135 business plans are currently being scrutinised for possible financing.
After banks approve the respective plans that they want to finance, government, through Rwanda Development Bank will provide collateral equivalent to 70 percent of the capital which the beneficiary will be asked to provide the remaining part to present before they get the money from the bank.
With the project scheduled to end on 28th June, this year, none of the financial institutions has funded or confirmed funding any project to-date as most of them are stuck in deciding on which ones to accept.
Delays in banks are allegedly attributed to branch managers, who receive business plans for initial study but delay or don’t submit them to the headquarters.
The minister also sounded corruption allegations in choosing the business plans to sponsor.
Bank representatives at the meeting however also blamed Hanga Umurimo participants for lack of business skills and experience and lack of knowledge on their projects.
“Some people have good business plans, but when they are called to present them, they don’t seem to have any knowledge about them. We sometimes also request them to submit support documents and they don’t come back,” said Jean Pierre Iyamuremye, in charge of credit at Bank of Kigali.
The bankers also noted that most of the business plans under scrutiny are for start-up businesses, yet banks are mainly interested in financing people who are already in business.
A participant on the programme who preferred anonymity, said in interview, that the main limitation still being noted is lack of the 30 percent collateral capital, which is a prerequisite to being funded.
“We thought the banks were going to help us start our businesses because we had good business plans but it turned out to be like any other loan where you need to raise 30 percent capital,” he said.
“The fact that one is supposed to be operating already should be reviewed too.”
The ministry targets to realise 300 new investments as a result of Hanga Umurimo this year, as the first phase.