Government, development partners in fresh effort to tackle SME funding challenge

A new effort that seeks to ease SMEs’ access to funding is underway. / Nadège Imbabazi
The Government has reiterated its commitment to work with development partners to facilitate local small and medium enterprises to access funding.
 
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Amb. Claver Gatete, said that the access to funding remains a major challenge for SMEs and there is need for multisectoral collaboration to address it.
 
The minister cited Rwanda Innovation Fund (RIF), which will extend support amounting to US$30 million to SMEs, as one of many latest interventions.
 
He was speaking at last week’s RSE Listings Forum 2018 roundtable, an initiative by the Rwanda Stock Exchange that seeks to help SMEs raise investment capital.
 
The recent SME listing initiative by the Rwanda Stock Exchange also seeks to help the enterprises address funding gaps.
 
“The proactive move by RSE to offer a sustainable solution to challenges facing SMEs in terms of availing technical advisory services and access to finance is a welcome gesture,” Gatete said.
 
He said that the Government would back programmes and initiatives by local and international partners designed to boost the sector’s prospects of accessing financing.
 
“The Government of Rwanda will continue supporting relevant programmes by stakeholders geared towards boosting prospects of the SME sector,” he said.
 
Robert Bafakulera, Private Sector Federation chairperson, said that local SMEs’ growth had been hindered by inadequate technical skills, as well as lack of finance and managerial skills.
 
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of the international partners working with the Government to support SMEs in efforts to address access to finance.
 
USAID Director of Economic Growth Malik Haidara said that working with the Government to facilitate SMEs’ access to funding is a sustainable approach to economic development. 
 
“Partnering with RSE in order to harness the potential of SME sector presents an opportunity of assisting with efforts geared towards developing Rwanda’s economy, which is one of the fastest growing in Africa. Linking the local capital markets with SMEs is a very practical pathway of growing the economy,” he said.
 
Over 10 small-and-medium enterprises and other corporates are looking to list on the Rwanda Stock Exchange’s alternative market segment.   
 
The SMEs, from different sectors, have already signed a memorandum of understanding with RSE, under which the two parties will draw up a roadmap to enable them list on local bourse’s alternative market segment to raise investment capital.
 
Most SMEs operating in the country have long cited access to finance challenges with options often limited to bank loans.
 
 

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