The Stakeholders in the development of the Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) in Rwanda have said that the country’s SMEs are positioned to compete with other regional businesses.
This was revealed yesterday at Kigali Serena Hotel during a one-day workshop to assess the opportunities and challenges faced by SMEs in Rwanda as they join the East African Community (EAC) common market.
The workshop was organized by Rwanda Development Board (RDB), SNV Netherlands development organization and the Ministry of East African affairs.
Robert Ssali, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East African affairs said that local SMEs are ready to compete because they produce products which have demand.
“Rwandan enterprises offer consumable goods which have a high demand on the market, all they have to do is to check the quality and quantity of their products to ensure sustainability,” said Ssali.
The EAC leaders signed the EAC common market last week, paving way for the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services in the region.
Official said that Rwanda already has numerous projects and programs planned to facilitate the business community’s integration into the EAC.
The workshop was also about sharing experiences, lessons learnt and best practices from stakeholders engaged in promoting access of Rwandan SMEs to the East African market that has an estimated population of 120 million people.
The stakeholders also urged SMEs to strengthen capacity building services as well as stimulating innovation for their products.
They also said that with the common market, Rwanda’s SMEs will assess unexploited opportunities, especially in Agribusiness with special focus on beekeeping, coffee, and fruit processing as well as dairy.
Rwanda is focusing on the agribusiness where it is said to have a competitive advantage since it has the raw material readily available in this sector.
However, local SMEs have to overcome challenges such as lack of awareness for the new market and they should also comply to regional standards in order to penetrate the market.
“In our effort to develop SMEs, we offer them value chain approach and we have worked with bee farmers, tourism and we are entering into coffee as well,” said Jean de Matha Ouedraogo, the Country Director of SNV.