Enterprises promoting Made-in-Rwanda products-that were hit by Covid-19- have welcomed recently unveiled a Rwf300 million fund and called for support from the fund.
Last week, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Rwanda Language Academy of Language and Culture (RALC) and Imbuto Foundation launched Art Rwanda-Ubuhanzi Project, a fund to help 30 projects cope with Covid-19 effects in cultural and creative industry.
Among the categories to benefit from the fund include those with campaigns to promote Made-in-Rwanda products by sensitizing Rwandans to know, like, prefer and use locally made products.
It is in this context that Doing Business talked to actors in promoting Made-in-Rwanda.
In 2017, John Migambi started the project “Made in Rwanda Market” to promote locally made products under his company dubbed “Bronze events”.
The company held monthly exhibitions of Made in Rwanda products in Kigali Car-Free Zone as well as in different hotels such as Marriot Hotel, Marasa Umubano Hotel and at big events held in the country.
The project is aimed at promoting Made-in-Rwanda products and promoting them for export with an aim to help reduce the trade deficit.
The monthly exhibition in the Car-Free Zone which could create some temporary jobs was also helping people from rural areas and cities to market their products, Migambi explained.
It was again a platform to learn from another so as to improve the quality of Made-in-Rwanda products.
“The project had transformed my life, the life of youth who locally produce the products, former street vendors and others,” he said.
However, even though the initiative had grown, it was disrupted by Covid-19 since the first case of Coronavirus in Rwanda in March 2020 according to Migambi.
“Covid-19 has put us into losses since the business to promote Made-in-Rwanda was our source of income. Those who used to exhibit their products every month were gaining money and this was lifting many out of poverty. But when Covid-19 broke out, sales decreased,” he explained.
Migambi is one of many entrepreneurs who are appealing for support under the recently announced Rwf300 million stimulus package.
“We request concerned institutions to consider us in the stimulus package so that we resume the exhibition of Made-in-Rwanda products. We need support because we want to extend the monthly Made in Rwanda exhibition to other provinces, districts beyond Kigali City,” he said.
This, he explained will continue to promote locally made products and make them easily accessible to rural residents.
“With the support to resume and expand this exhibition to more districts, more Rwandans will gain access to the products and use instead of relying on the imports,” he said.
Trying to cope with the lock-down effects, Migambi started an application dubbed “Isoko Nyarwanda” with the aim to promote the products through e-commerce.
Jeanne Umuhoza, one of 25 women that locally produce honey said halting the monthly Made-in-Rwanda exhibition has led them into huge losses.
“The negative effects are adverse. That was a big platform to attract many clients. For instance, we could sell honey worth Rwf 500,000 per week but currently, we can go a day without sales and only a few sales weekly. That has triggered a huge impact on our business since we have no income to pay rent for our working places,” she said.
“We need further investments to recover and need another platform such as an exhibition to regain access to clients. Any fund that can help us get cheap loans is very helpful,” she said.
Esperance Nyiraneza, who makes dresses, said that she is also struggling to pay rent for her working space due to decreased income following the Covid-19 outbreak.
“The monthly exhibition in Car-Free Zone was a platform that was linking us to many clients including foreigners. This was promoting the image of locally made products. It was also an opportunity to learn from others who produce the same products so that we improve the quality,” she said.Follow NkurunzizaMiche