Entrepreneurs are to be connected to foreign investors at this year’s Terimbere business plan contest as a way of helping them to have their business ideas funded.
President of the Junior Chamber International-JCI Rwandan chapter, Albert Nzamukwereka, said the competition will expose entrepreneurs to over 100 investors interested in financing SMEs in emerging markets.
“It is about whether your idea is worth to be funded and supported,” Nzamukwereka said during a recent exclusive interview with Business Times.
The Terimbere Challenge 2012 was initiated last year with the aim of empowering young entrepreneurs with business skills though they lack links to potential investors to support their businesses.
Unlike other contests, the Terimbere Challenge will solely be conducted online to provide participants with a chance to access ready feedback and support in writing business plans.
He added that all entries will have a visibility through a network of 40,000 members thus increasing their chances to receive local and international support.
In addition, winners will be invited to a business trip to the Netherlands in November 2012, to promote their business ideas and be connected to potential investors and venture capitalists.
Annek Evers of Bidnetwork said the challenge mainly focuses on helping entrepreneurs to learn how to grow their businesses rather than compete for prize money, which predictably excludes most people who do not manage to attain the top positions.
“There are so many aspects of growing businesses other than just earning money and that’s a great thing that people have to learn about and become empowered,” she observed.
Moreover, experts say that as entrepreneurs change their attitude towards funding obligations and learn how to prepare good business plans, financial institutions logically ought to pump in more credit.
“It’s not only about the financial discipline. They (entrepreneurs) have to abide by the banks’ regulations. They should distinguish between cash and profit and all other issues and come and discuss with bankers,” Rao Balivada, Managing Director of Fina Bank noted.
Inadvertently, credit to small and medium enterprises has increased to over 17 percent of the overall lending portfolio in the country, according to the National Bank of Rwanda.
This is in line with efforts by the Central bank to break from over-reliance on real estate and land as prime collaterals but also to movable collateral supported by better credit information, a move that will see more startups have access to credit to finance their businesses.