SME conference targets to tackle financial access

Experts are optimistic that the upcoming conference on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) due to be held in Kigali this week will provide solutions to the challenge of access to finance, which that is partly to blame for the slow growth of SMEs.
Maize mill in Rulindo: growth of such SMEs is hindered by limited access o finance. The New Times / File.
Maize mill in Rulindo: growth of such SMEs is hindered by limited access o finance. The New Times / File.

Experts are optimistic that the upcoming conference on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) due to be held in Kigali this week will provide solutions to the challenge of access to finance, which that is partly to blame for the slow growth of SMEs.

“We are aware that SMEs are a backbone to our economies. We will facilitate knowledge exchange networking and learning as one way of paving the way for advanced SME growth,” Anneke Evers of Bidnetwork told Business Times in an interview.

The two day conference, which is  set to start this Friday, is organised by Bidnetwork, an international non governmental organisation. It will bring together high growth entrepreneurs and experts in the areas of developing, growing and financing SMEs.

SMEs are perceived by financial institutions to be too risky for funding, which puts them in an unpredictable state in terms of growth.

“This unique platform will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, leaders and experts to explore and activate the SME sector development in Africa and beyond,” Evers pointed out.

Over 20 pre-selected and trained high growth entrepreneurs from emerging markets including

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Kosovo and Palestine will be invited to network and present their companies to investors and peers.

There is hope that these efforts will supplement the current initiatives such as the government’s Rwf10 billion Business Development Fund that provides guarantee to banks that lend money to SMEs.

“Eighty eight projects have since benefited under the agricultural guarantee fund, 17 from SME fund and 56 from rural investment facility while 14 only benefited from the women guarantee fund,” Innocent  Bulindi, the Chief Executive Officer Business Development Fund- BDF mentioned earlier.

Freddie Nyangezi, the Corporate Affairs manager at Bralirwa notes that support to SMEs would boost the business sector.

“We are giving out trucks to our distributors as one way of boosting their businesses. We believe as a company that supporting SMEs is the best thing for development of our country,” he noted.

 

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