Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) and BN Producers, a local mushroom processor, locked horns as the latter blamed the bank for failure to offer it credit despite fulfilling all loan requirements.
Berthilde Niyibaho, the proprietor of BN Producers says the decision by the bank undermines the factory’s efforts to increase production.
Her project (factory) was selected for funding by the Ministry Trade and Industry through the “Hanga Umurimo” Programme, a government initiative that seeks to promote entrepreneurship by providing guarantee to access financing from banks.
“I told the bank to give me a loan so that I can expand my factory and improve production,” she said on Friday during a dialogue meeting organised by Ministry of Trade, adding that BRD refused to heed her request.
The meeting was arranged after the Prime Minister visited the factory and instructed the Minister of Trade and Industry to intervene.
“I provided all the necessary documents and requirements they wanted and one of their staff (members) came here and inspected the project and said the project had no problem; so I knew I was getting money,” she explained.
To her surprise, Niyibaho noted, the bank was dragging feet, which prompted her to write to its (BRD) Managing Director, Jack Kayonga, for intervention.
“After writing, they sent another staff (member) who actually found that over 450 kilogrammes of mushrooms had gone bad that day,” she narrated.
After the visit, Niyibaho said she was told that the bank could not finance her project because the company did not have the ability to make a profit.
The Bank blamed the company for poor business ethics including poor financial management. It also accused the company’s proprietor of lack of integrity and credibility, key elements usually used by banks to assess a borrower’s creditworthiness.
“The problem is not that the business cannot make profits. The problem is that we have issues of integrity and credibility with the owner (Niyibaho) since we had poor working relations with her,” Kayonga said.
Kayonga told Business Times that as the president of the now defunct Abadahemuka cooperative in 2002, Niyibaho struggled to repay loans acquired by the cooperative from BRD.
Although she later paid, Kayonga pointed out that her image was already tainted.
“Having a loan and failing to pay happens. But the way you talk to the bank and explain your issues matters a lot,” he observed.
Kayonga noted that during the time of her loan application, she still had issues with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) where she had defaulted on a loan acquired from the latter financial institution.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, asked the bank to extend credit to the producer but cautioned that there is need to address issues of financial management.
“There must be a problem of financial management. If the bank accepts to give a loan, we need to work with the Business Development Fund to help this project in financial management aspects,” he said.
The Minister is hopeful that any assistance rendered to the producer is likely to increase mushroom exports.