The Minister for Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, yesterday launched a Rwf2.5 billion commercial complex owned by Adarwa, a cooperative in Gisozi, a Kigali suburb.
The complex is located in Gakinjiro business centre, Gasabo, that is a hub for artisanal Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The minister pledged government’s commitment to supporting cooperatives, especially those that manufacture different materials like furniture so as to reduce the national import bill.
He said government was also looking into the possibility of setting up a national cooperative bank that will work with the biggest cooperatives in the country to harness the activities of Saccos.
“We are thinking of establishing a national cooperative bank to work with Saccos, and big cooperatives like Adarwa will get a chance to buy shares in it. This will enable SMEs to get money to use in creating income-generating enterprises,” he said.
“Your work here greatly contributes toward government efforts to create jobs and promote SMEs. Government is planning to set up a training centre here at Gakinjiro to support SMEs,” Kanimba said.
Adarwa comprises mainly furniture manufacturers.
The minister also urged cooperatives in the manufacturing sector to work hard and produce quality products that will compete favourably in the regional market.
“Every district now has Agakiriro (technical and vocational centre). Each of these centres will, in the near future, have a cooperative as big as Adarwa and this will certainly transform our economy,” he said.
Justin Gashayija, the president of Adarwa, said construction works on the complex started in 2013 with each of the 150 members contributing Rwf2.5 million which constituted 40 per cent of the total cost.
The other 60 per cent financing was provided by the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) as a loan.
Gashayija, however, said that they face operating challenges like high customs duties on timber, which is their major raw material. The minister pledged to liase with the other concerned institutions and look into the issue.
Gashayija said Gakinjiro centre employs about 10,000 people, with Adarwa currently employing about 3,000 youths in furniture production, among other projects.
“As carpenters, we will come up with mechanisms to produce more quality products. Our aim is to dominate the market and ensure Rwandans do not havre to look outside the country for quality,” he promised.
The cooperative, which was started by carpenters as an association in 1988 now has 157 members.
The coop has opened an advanced carpentry show room in four storeys of the new complex, whose total occupancy is already at 60 per cent.
The Mayor of the City of Kigali, Fidele Ndayisaba, said the building is part of infrastructure envisaged in the city master plan that will help eradicate unplanned housing.