The Women Chamber of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), which is the umbrella arm of the business community in the country plans to establish a bank to allow women access loans under various schemes. It will target those in rural areas.
Access to credit is still a challenge among most women entrepreneurs in Rwanda as lenders consider them risky clients. They lack collateral despite demonstrable innovative and viable business ideas.
“It is our long term strategy to have a women’s bank that would appropriately serve the interests of all women, especially the rural based so that they can start business projects,” Immy Kamarade, president of the women’s chamber said during the handover ceremony by the previous board held in Kigali, yesterday..
The proposed bank, she said, would help in fast tracking access to credit among women entrepreneurs, who still face a challenge in writing business plans and proposals.
“The objective…is not to make profits but to solve the problems that are unique in hindering women’s access to finance,” she said.
The move is also in line with government’s strategy to promote women’s empowerment. Government rolled out various initiatives including guarantee funds and banks waiving off some collateral requirements to boost access to loans.
The modalities of the bank are yet to be worked out. It is also not yet clear when the bank will be established.
Claudine Gahongaire, a vendor in Kigali said that most microfinance institutions do not trust women in small businesses as they cannot practically explain their businesses on paper.
“I try to explain to them that I earn profits in my business and if they give me money to expand it, I can also make my business bigger,” she observed, adding that the perception that women cannot graduate from their small businesses hampers women’s access to credit.
She urged women to expand their business ideas beyond the boundaries of selling vegetables and handicrafts and start growing into great corporate businesses.
“We are starting by recruiting all women countrywide into the chamber so that we can identify their needs and challenges,” she added
The Chairman PSF, Faustin Mbundu, noted that the federation is setting up plans to support rural based women and those in agriculture, as a way of boosting the economy.