Financing to Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) peaked to Rwf147.7 billion in the first half this year, up from Rwf124. 9 billion in the same period last year, according to the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR).
The growth is driven by government policy to empower SMEs as key catalyst for economic growth and job creation.
According to the figures released by BNR, by June this year, Microfinance Institutions approved Rwf7.7 billion while banks loans totaled Rwf139.9 billion.
Central bank Governor, Amb.Claver Gatete, said the achievement is also attributed to the shift in conventional lending norms, where financial institutions used to over-rely on real estate and land as prime collateral.
The introduction of private Credit Reference Bureau (CRB), which provides the credit history of borrowers, also triggered a surge in loans.
A survey by the BNR and World Bank revealed that small enterprises remain credit constrained and outside the formal financial system in spite of significant growth of the banking industry and introduction of policies to improve their access to finance over the last one decade.
“We see this as tremendous achievement, we recorded 17 per cent of the overall lending portfolio higher than in Nigeria and South Africa at 5 and 8 per cent respectively,” Gatete said.
The performance is also slightly above the average of 16 per cent in developing economies.
Experts say if appropriately supported, SMEs have the potential to be the growth engine of the economy due to their ability to create jobs, foster entrepreneurship, and to provide depth to the industrial base of the economy.
However, SME’s share of credit is still relatively small compared to their economic importance and that aggressive promotion of an enabling environment for SME lending is vital to keep the trend un- reversed.
In terms of distribution commerce, hotels and mortgage industry have the big shares with 41 and 22 per cent respectively, manufacturing accounts for 9 per cent, agriculture, fishery and livestock with 9 per cent.
Vianney kabera, proprietor of Fresh Park Company acknowledged that banks and other financial institution are supportive compared to previous years.
“It is impressive that every bank now has an SME department a policy which was not there before 2010 and this helped SMEs access loans more easily,” he said.
He also appreciated the introduction of CRB, saying it has helped SMEs behave well, operate and borrow in their capacity thus paying on time as well as growing.
He however, said that banks should revisit the leasing facilities because SMEs used to lease equipment to boost their capital and since it was stopped SMEs are finding it hard to progress.
The new indicator with regards to access to finance is the desire by women entrepreneurs to get loans which increased to 22 per cent from 16 in 2006.
According to the central bank’s monetary policy statement, a monthly comparison indicates that 75 per cent equivalent to Rwf16.6 billion is disbursed to men while 22 per cent (Rwf5, 5 billion) is given to women.
In the first half 2012, Kigali city got the lion’s share of the loans approved at 73 per cent, followed by Southern and Eastern province both with 8 per cent each and Western and Northern province with 7 and 4 per cent respectively.