Prize winner cries foul, blames BRD

The 2004 business competition plan winner has accused Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) of denying him a $20,000 (about Frw11m) loan prize he won.

The 2004 business competition plan winner has accused Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) of denying him a $20,000 (about Frw11m) loan prize he won.

Steven Muhwezi, the chairman of Citizens Company Ltd which he co-owns with three other members alleges that he won the national business competition in 2004 but that BRD Director General, Théogene Turatsinze, has refused to honour the pledge.

According to the rules governing business plan competition, the company was supposed to satisfy BRD’s lending conditions to access a loan of $10,000 to start a cattle farming project.

The balance was to be made available in form of technical assistance in accounting, management information systems, marketing and management training.

Muhwezi wonders why their firm has since 2004 been denied the money, but Turatsinze insists that applicant failed to meet lending conditions. 

“We cannot release such a loan without clear collateral from the Citizens Company,” Turatsinze said, adding that the firm has the right to access the money if it meets lending terms. The BRD boss pointed out that the company does not own any plot of land which could serve as surety.

Muhwezi dismisses this saying that the company owns 15 hectares of land in Rwimiyaga Sector, Eastern Province.

But BRD has some doubts on the company’s ownership of the said piece of land. The bank says the land is registered in the names of Muhwezi rather than the company, a risk which the bank can not undertake.

And although Muhwezi declared in a February 2007 agreement signed between him and the company that he has surrendered the land to it, the bank still doubts the validity of the pact. 

Worries of the bank emanate from the fact that the transfer of ownership agreement is hand-written and the only signatures appended to it are those of Muhwezi and the Executive Secretary of Rwimiyaga Sector, Wilson Mugabo.

“We cannot accept such manually written land transfer agreement given the fact that the person solely behind that is the one who surrendered the land,” Turatsinze maintains.
The first edition of business plan competition was held in 2004, and received about 400 proposals amongst which 10 winners were selected to receive loans.

The second edition organised in 2006 attracted 576 projects among which 20 winners were selected.

In both editions, the winners were awarded $20,000, half of which was to be used as collateral for a loan from the partner bank BRD. 

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