The number of women receiving loans from commercial banks and microfinance institutions has gone up, boosting the government’s efforts towards univsersal access to financial services.
Speaking during the release of the monetary policy and financial stability statement recently, the former central bank governor, Claver Gatete, said by the end of 2012, loans granted to women by banks increased by 43.9 per cent from Rwf41.2b in 2011 to Rwf59.3b in 2012. Gatete was last week appointed the Finance Minister.
He said the central bank conducted a study to find out women’s access to funding, which indicated that more women had accessed finances compared to the previous year,” he said.
He explained that the annual comparison indicated that 77.6 per cent (Rwf205.3b) and 22.4 per cent (Rwf59.3b) of loans issued by banks were disbursed to men and women respectively last year compared to the 78 per cent and 22 per cent recorded in 2011.
In the microfinance sector, the number of accounts opened last year increased by 29% compared to 2011, 40 per cent of which belonged to women. The number of outstanding loans increased by 120.5 per cent compared to the 2011 level, with 33.5 per cent of the loans granted to women.
Dative Mukabalisa, an importer and wholesaler in Kigali City, told Business Times that the government had empowered women to do business by enabling them access bank loans and similar services from microfinance institutions.
“I thank commercial banks like Equity Bank for enabling us do business,” she said.
Mukabalisa noted that some years back, it was difficult for women to access loans, saying only those with big businesses could be funded.
“Today, it is much easier for me to get a loan with Equity Bank when I am short of funds to and at the same time use Bank of Kigali when I am paying taxes at the border,” she says.
Gatete noted that banks should lend to the small-and medium-sized enterprises, saying they contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.