Thirteen local Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) have been selected as finalists for the finals of Bank of Kigali’s Urumuri Initiative organized in partnership with Inkomoko, a local business consulting firm.
The thirteen firms were selected on Thursday, 14th November after presentations to a panel of judges. The final are slated for Thursday next week.
BK Urumuri Initiative is an annual entrepreneurial competition that aims at supporting local Small Medium Enterprises to access interest-free loans and intensive business training, as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility.
Three years after its inception, the competition attracts more than 400 emerging enterprises annually as firms seek to access interest free loans to develop their enterprises further. Rwf180 million in interest fee loans that have so far been disbursed.
Diane Karusisi, Bank of Kigali Chief Executive Officer, encouraged the finalists to remain committed to the courses reminding them that the initiative was designed to help youth-led start-ups access affordable finance.
She noted that there are lots of fresh brilliant ideas and business concepts amongst young people that need to be supported through both financing and incubation.
“It is important to invest in fresh entrepreneurial ideas from young innovators for this country to thrive. All young innovators who turned up had bright and interesting ideas. I urge the five innovators who will be announced winners to make use of the opportunity” Karusisi reiterated.
One of the 13 finalists competing to be among the five best finalists said that a Rwf5 million interest-free loan would enable them expand their enterprise in terms of their diversity in the local market.
Julienne Oyler, Founder at Inkomoko, hailed the partnership with the Bank, which has yielded to the success of different business projects.
She also lauded the contestants for qualifying for the finals and challenged them to make good use of the skills obtained from the six-month-long training that they have had.
“Conversely, I want to challenge you all to make good use of the hands-on skills obtained from the six-month-long intensive training,” She said.
The initiative focuses on SMEs that have been in operation for more than one year, and with revenue not exceeding Rwf500 million.
According to the organizers, this year involved intensive business training especially around intensive research and business development.
Thierry Nshuti, Head of Marketing at BK, said; “Bank of Kigali is committed and optimistic about investing in young people to inspire a generation of entrepreneurs and innovators. We are thrilled to support the country’s political vision in developing a generation of able and creative young entrepreneurs,” he said.
He also added; “that is the main reason we go out there and look for the most promising Rwandan entrepreneurs business training and an interest free-loan to expand their business concepts”
The best 5 applicants will be announced on Thursday next week at the headquarters of the bank.