The Business Development Fund (BDF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have renewed commitment to boost business advisory services to help spur growth among SMEs in the country.
Under a new arrangement, the two seek to scale up technical and financial support to SMEs and enhance their production capacity to impact the economy.
The deal, according to Innocent Bulindi, BDF’s chief executive officer, will include offering business advisory services and entrepreneurial training programmes on how to prepare bankable business plans.
Bulindi said more focus will be on effective management of cooperatives and small companies, and will encompass such issues as tax advisory services and business registration processes.
“The overall idea is to be able to establish a structured platform for advisory services to small-and-medium enterprises,” he said.
Bulindi was speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop on building partnerships to help expand business advisory services among SMEs in Kigali on Tuesday.
The workshop brought together entrepreneurs, bankers, trade experts and tax experts.
Participants deliberated on ways to scale up efforts to boost financial inclusion and resource mobilization to help strengthen entrepreneurship in the country.
BDF recently decentralized its structures countrywide, opening centres in each of the country’s 30 districts after it took over what were previously known as Business Development Centres (BDCs), which it has since renovated and renamed ‘Kora Wigire’.
Providing credit guarantees for good bankable projects that don’t have collateral to present to banks is BDF’s flag service and since its establishment in 2011 and January 2015, the Fund had provided guarantee 2926 projects, worth Rwf106 billion, of which over Rwf40 billion was approved.
BDF certified officers have since trained more than 500 young entrepreneurs across the country to equip them with the skills necessary to effectively run their businesses.
According Jude Muzale, the national programme coordinator at ILO, the SME industry continues to grapples with such challenges as high costs of doing business, limited access to finance, access to markets, and limited innovation.
“These challenges make it hard for many SMEs to break even; therefore, our renewed commitment is to come up with new strategies that will help address some of these business constraints and make the sector more competitive,” Muzale said.
For example, he said, under the programme all BDF officers at different centres will train as trainers who will, in turn, help empower SMEs across the country.
John Rutagarama, the BDF’s head of business advisory department, urged entrepreneurs to embrace the new campaign for economic sustainability.