Centre for Support to Small and Medium Enterprises in Rwanda (Capmer) is set to transform small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Rwanda from getting poor finance access to greater and constant financial access, said Rica Rwigamba, coordinator of the access to information and access to market unit in Capmer.
She says their aim is to help small, medium enterprises (SMEs) to access information on financial matters, market research, entrepreneurship development and diagnosis of enterprises.
“Our work is not to give money to SMEs; we just link them with financial institutions,” she said.
“Before, SMEs used to face the problem of accessing loans from financial institutions but now we have made it easy for them.”Rwigamba said Capmer has created a good relationship between SMEs and financial institutions.
“We have signed the memorandum of understanding with many financial institutions,” she said. “So if an SME gets approval of the proposal from Capmer, it is easy for it to access loans from any financial institutions in Rwanda.’’
Previously, SMEs were complaining they had no access to finances from financial institutions, while financial institutions were also complaining SMEs were not approaching them for loans.
“We help SMEs to access markets by inviting them to be active in exhibitions, giving them the market price from international markets,” said Rwigamba.
Capmer has worked hand in hand with the Rwanda Bureau of Standards to promote standards for SMEs exports.
“Our aim is to put our exports on international standards,” Rwigamba said.
They have worked with Rwanda Information Technology Authority (Rita) to promote the services of SMEs which are under the ICT sector.
“We have also trained SMEs in advertising, packing and consultancy,” she said. Capmer is a non-profit organisation with support from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Private Sector Federation and donors.
The company trains SMEs in business plan writing which is done by hiring experts from the Netherlands, UK and USA to teach business skills. Every trainee pays Frw 5000 and the remainder is paid by the company.
Success stories include Ruliba, which is a brick laying company and has now expanded because of their business plans aided by Capmer.
Capmer, in collaboration with Bank Populaire and the Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) have trained 418 consultants in rural areas in business plan writing and entrepreneurship from all regions in the country.
Capmer started in 2000 under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, however in 2002, it received independence.
They have started training cooperatives in organisational skills.
Rwigamba said their strategic plan for 2007-2010 is shifting from direct business development services to indirect services.
Their future plan is to form a business school at Capmer offices for all Rwandans to benefit from entrepreneurship lessons.
‘‘We want every one in the future to start their own job, rather than waiting for government employment,” said Rwigamba.