Small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) should be given more support if they are to play a big role in efforts geared at finding solutions for community problems. Jonathan Shibley, the president of Global Advance, a US firm, said SMEs need to be supported to build their capacity and skills to contribute to community wellbeing and hence boost their chances to grow. Shibley was speaking at the just-ended Rwanda Investment Conference in Kigali last week.
“SME operators were equipped with skills in starting and developing businesses during the conference, but they should continue to search for knowledge and promote good practices that will enhance their business,” he said.
He also urged SMEs to take risks and be confident while running their businesses, adding that business people should not fear to fail, especially during the initial stages of the business.
“Don’t fear to fail; persist and be patient to achieve success,” Shibley said.
BDC operational director Patrice Habinshuti called for more capacity building for sector players to help them improve their operations and make their enterprises sustainable and prifitable. “BDC will continue to support SMEs through trainings, as well as financially and advisory services,” Habinshuti said.
Heath Cardie, who led a delegation of 16 US investors to the forum, said they selected 25 projects for possible funding and partnerships.
He added that the selected projects would receive direct funding, ranging from Rwf10 million to Rwf30million. They are from manufacturing, construction, technology, and agriculture sectors, among others.
Emmanuel Tuyisenge, the managing director for TEMACO Builders Ltd, said local SMEs gained a lot from the US investors, especially on how to draft business plans, adding that he would use the skills to build his business.
He, however, noted that lack of entrepreneurial culture, low technical and business skills, and difficulty in accessing market information and finance were the big challenges facing the sector.