In a bid to recognise the role of small businesses in Rwanda’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, Access to Finance Rwanda and partners of the SME Response Clinic are running a campaign dubbed ‘Twiteze Imbere’. The campaign, meaning ‘Let’s Move Forward Together,’ is supporting enterprises to overcome challenges and acknowledges their importance in job creation and Rwanda’s ongoing economic transformation. Through resources and learning opportunities, the SME Response Clinic online platform provides access to training, industry insights, and financial management advice to entrepreneurs in Rwanda. The campaign has been organised in collaboration with ConsumerCentriX, the Private Sector Federation, the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, African Management Institute, New Faces New Voices Rwanda and the Rwanda Bankers Association. A key feature of the campaign is to celebrate exceptional businesses through the inaugural SME Response Clinic Business Awards and to encourage entrepreneurs to utilise the SME Response Clinic. As part of the campaign, people across Rwanda can nominate their favourite small businesses. Winning businesses will receive a cash prize of Rwf1 million to invest in their operations as well as expert advisory services. According to Jean Bosco Iyacu, Country Director, Access to Finance Rwanda, small businesses are the backbone of Rwanda’s economy and employ the vast majority of people across the country. “I encourage all Rwandans to nominate their favourite small business for the SME Response Clinic Business Awards. It’s a great way to show support for local businesses and the role they play in our day-to-day lives,” he said. Iyacu explained that SME Response Clinic partners are a mix of financial service providers, capacity building providers, and networks of entrepreneurs, which helps them reach a diverse audience with the shared goal of supporting small businesses. “Partners are working together to support small businesses through this campaign and we are grateful for the contribution. They have not only provided a range of prizes for the winners and runners-up that will be useful for business owners, but also continued to share messages of resilience with their networks,” he said. Anna Gincherman, Partner, ConsumerCentriX, also noted that the SME Response Clinic Business Awards are just one way to further support small businesses that have been pillars of the communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are delighted to have organised this campaign to celebrate the tremendous resilience of entrepreneurs in Rwanda,” she said. Nominating your favourite small business The competition is open for everyone to nominate their favourite small businesses on the SME Response Clinic website (www.smeresponse.clinic/awards) or by calling 0781024420. To be eligible to win the prize, the nominated business should be registered in Rwanda, have between 1 and 100 employees, and have made an impact in its community. Gincherman explained that they are receiving nominations in three categories: women-owned businesses, start-up or innovative businesses, and established businesses. The winner in each category will receive a cash prize of Rwf1 million to invest in their business as well as expert advisory services. Selected runners-up will be sponsored to participate in the African Management Institute’s Survive to Thrive programme, which provides entrepreneurs with the skills, tools, and strategies to navigate challenges and thrive in difficult times. Nominations are open until April 4, 2021, and the winners will be announced at the end of April.