The government has announced a Rwf700 million kitty to finance some 3,000 start-ups and enterprising youth projects this fiscal year.
Announcing the fund on Tuesday, the Minister for Public Service and Labour, Judith Uwizeye, also unveiled a new job-creation and self-reliance drive, particularly targeting the youth, People With Disabilities (PWDs) and women vendors.
The Kora Wigire scheme replaces Hanga Umurimo programme.
According to the minister, beneficiaries will get soft loans of up to 50 per cent to implement their projects. The loans will attract a 4 per cent annual interest rate compared to the average market rate of 17 per cent.
The new initiative is also expected to deepen the entrepreneurial spirit among Rwandans to create a self-reliant population as per the country’s development blueprint, the EDPRSII (Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy 2).
Self-employment is crucial as only fewer than 2 per cent of the over 10,000 youths that graduate annually get government jobs. That’s the reason why all Rwandans, institutions, especially banks and policy-makers, should support initiatives that foster entrepreneurship, skills development, and financial inclusion across all segments of the population.
However, a few things need to be fixed first: Business Development Fund (BDF) targets to bring on board a large number of the previously financially excluded segments of the population, including PWDs, fresh graduates, women vendors, and rehabilitated youth.
What mechanisms are in place to equip beneficiaries with financial and project management skills? It is essential for beneficiaries to use and manage the loans and the enterprises prudently, especially during the initial stages, to ensure project survival.
In business, the problem is mostly never about money, but management and money discipline. Already BDF says some of the would-be beneficiaries lack business proposal writing skills, while others are not aware such programmes exist.
With the government targeting at least 200,000 new off-farm jobs annually, it is important that initiatives geared towards achieving this goal are well-focused to bear the desired fruit.
In addition, as the new scheme kicks off, the minister should have given Rwandans a report on the performance of the programme, and shared the lessons learnt to ensure improvement going forward.