COVID-19: Private sector inks deal to support SMEs

The Private Sector Federation on Monday, May 4, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Access to Finance Rwanda in a new initiative aimed at supporting entrepreneurs in Rwanda to adjust to economic realities of COVID-19.

The parties to the deal, as noted, seek to share their respective strengths, experiences, technologies, including technical assistance to facilitate Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic.


They also seek to collectively support businesses in the short, medium and long term.


“Being the catalyst of a deeper and inclusive financial sector in Rwanda, Access to Finance Rwanda sees the MSME Response Clinic as a key tool in addressing information asymmetry between policy makers, Financial Services Providers and the MSMEs,” said Waringa Kibe, AFR Country Director.


“It also provides an opportunity to understand the real needs of SMEs so as to be able to effectively support them during this unprecedented crisis of Covid-19.”

SME Response Clinic as its termed, is a digital platform that will translate new policies and financial advisory services and access to finance related information in a clear and straightforward language in English and Kinyarwanda.

The Private Sector Federation CEO, Stephen Ruzibiza, said the new partnership has come at the right time when MSMEs need strong recovery approaches in terms of various aspects including the right information and access to finance.

“We welcome this partnership as the SME Response Clinic will provide and collect needed information that will enable key stakeholders to support resilience of the MSME Sector in this period of Covid-19,” he said.

As noted, ConsumerCentriX, an international strategy consulting firm, is the main implementing agency. 

The firm works with financial service providers and policymakers on translating consumer insights into market strategies and policies to reach the unserved or underserved.

A joint statement states that access to the right information, training and finance is no easy feat.

Even before the crisis, it is noted, a number of studies, including ConsumerCentrix’s research in May 2019 and Private Sector Federation’s Business and Climate Survey April 2019 respectively, indicate MSME owners face several critical challenges even at the time of economic growth and stability.

The Rwandan Government and financial sector have taken several significant measures to support MSMEs during this challenging period, reads part of the joint statement.

“To ensure that these important measures are communicated to MSMEs in an accessible and timely manner, views and insights of relevant stakeholders, and different Interviews will be conducted and all information gathered will be disseminated through the designated website, and different media channels.”

Anna Gincherman, Partner of ConsumerCentriX noted that if well implemented, the new partnership will yield positive results for the country’s private sector.

“As the leading implementing agency for this project, ConsumerCentriX is well-positioned to accomplish the project objectives due to its extensive background in SME development in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Rwanda, its expertise in working with financial service providers and regulators, and its in-house capacity to manage digital communication,” Gincherman said.

Accordingly, through a partnership with the African Management Institute (AMI), the SME Response Clinic will promote a series of webinars and virtual programs to help entrepreneurs adjust to new realities and ensure resiliency for the future.

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