Small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) should think outside the box, develop better products and offer competitive customer service if they are to move their businesses to the next level.
According to David Ormesher, the chief executive officer, Closer Look, Inc, a US-based pharmaceutical marketing firm, many local SMEs offer similar services, do not package their products properly, and have poor customer service.
Experts say poor packaging and wanting customer service are some of the main challenges that affect the competitiveness of local businesses and products.
“The more attractive your product is to a prospective client, the more distinct you are in the marketplace, the more likely you will be chosen by consumers,” Ormesher, who is also a business coach, said.
He said SMEs as the backbone of emerging states, like Rwanda, need to be aggressive and to embrace new age tools, like e-mails, phone calls, unique packaging to support their product development, presentation, and marketing.
“Small-and-medium companies will be able to create new jobs if they are innovative,” said the founder of Bigger Future Rwanda.
He was speaking during a one-day training workshop for some SME operators from across the country. It was organised by the Bigger Future Rwanda, an entrepreneurship support firm, which funds innovative enterprises to support government efforts geared at creating more jobs for the youth.
The over 50 participants were equipped with business management skills, networking, strategic planning, customer service and organisational skills to help them improve the operations of their enterprises.
Leandre Cyusa Mucyowiraba, the Bigger Future Rwanda country director, said SMEs should take advantage of Rwanda’s supportive business policies and security to open new frontiers for growth.
“You should exploit opportunities presented by the local and regional markets to promote the Made-in-Rwanda, and African products, in general,” he said.
The government is promoting consumption of locally-made products under the Made-in-Rwanda campaign as part of broader efforts to reduce the country’s import bill.
Safari Gahizi, Global Trade Law Chamber chief, said the training was beneficial, noting that he learnt customer skills.
He added that he also learnt business planning, saying that the skills will help him develop annual work plans for his firm.
SMEs make up 98 per cent all the businesses in the country and are key drivers of growth.