Hanga Umurimo hampered by lack of financial entities in Nyaruguru District

Hanga Umurimo was started to stimulate innovative investment ideas, empower communities with critical business skills and identify individuals with entrepreneurial aptitude to generate good and bankable business ideas. Now in its second phase, successful business ideas have been linked to banks for financing.
While in Nyaruguru district, Minister Kanimba visited some of the established entrepreneurs who have benefited or are set to benefit from the Hanga Umurimo programme. Saturday Times/Je....
While in Nyaruguru district, Minister Kanimba visited some of the established entrepreneurs who have benefited or are set to benefit from the Hanga Umurimo programme. Saturday Times/Je....

Hanga Umurimo was started to stimulate innovative investment ideas, empower communities with critical business skills and identify individuals with entrepreneurial aptitude to generate good and bankable business ideas. Now in its second phase, successful business ideas have been linked to banks for financing.

Some people have accessed loans and started successful businesses. Others are still awaiting financing.

For example, only two out of 10 successful candidates who had qualified to get the loans in Nyaruguru District during the first phase of Hanga Umurimo have so far managed to access funds. Others are still waiting for their projects to be approved for funding.

The implementation of the programme was complicated by the fact that there are no commercial banks operating in the district apart from a branch of the Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), according to the district mayor, Francois Habitegeko.

Habitegeko said BPR could not fund all the successful projects, which also came at a time when the bank had significantly reduced its loan offers.

Thus, most of the eligible candidates had to take their documents to the neighbouring Huye or Nyamagabe districts to try and acquire loans in the various commercial banks there.

That raised challenges as the banks had also to serve clients living in their respective districts while some individuals, who might have come up with profitable projects, were discouraged.

These challenges were highlighted during a meeting between Trade and Industry minister Francois Kanimba and various stakeholders in Nyaruguru over the state of the Hanga Umurimo programme in the district.

Kanimba expressed disappointment over the limited number of beneficiaries of the programme in the district, saying, ‘It is not understandable that commercial banks are yet to open offices in the district.’

“There are tea factories [in Nyaruguru District], and several developmental projects and businesses are growing very fast and a lot of tourism initiatives are to be implemented in Kibeho (a place of pilgrimage). I don’t understand why commercial banks are not yet here,” Kanimba said, before adding that hopefully the banks will realise the district potential and invest there.

Looking to second phase


“Some individuals who would have developed profitable business projects might have been discouraged by the distance and time it would take them to travel to Huye or Nyamagabe to ask for loans. That’s a serious challenge to this programme.”

But the minister noted that he believed the district will not be left behind in the implementation of the programme.

“We hope many more will benefit from the second phase,” Kanimba told Saturday Times after the meeting.

At least Rwf5bn is injected in developmental projects every year in the district. And the money adds to other billions that come into the district in various forms, either through taxes or other investment, Habitegeko said.

That, according to the mayor, constitutes a serious opportunity that commercial banks can tap into.

Philippe Hodari, who runs a carpentry workshop and whose project had been selected, said his project is not advancing at a desired pace.

“I am still awaiting the bank to approve my application,” he said, noting that the distance from Nyaruguru to Huye increases his expenditure.

Engaging Saccos

Hanga Umurimo is a programme which aims at creating more than 200,000 off-farm jobs annually. Eligible candidates under the programme are in two categories: established entrepreneurs on one hand, and start-ups on the other.

Those successful from each category qualify for loans and the government, through the Business Development Fund (BDF), offers collateral of up to 75 per cent of the total security.

The first phase of the programme ended last year.

Since the launch of the second phase, 80 business ideas in Nyaruguru have so far been identified as bankable, according to officials. Forty one of them have been submitted to banks, mainly in Huye District, and are waiting to be approved for funding, according to Habitegeko.

“We are in discussion with commercial banks to see how they can establish branches in the district,” Habitegeko said, disclosing that discussion with the Bank of Kigali (BK) and Cogebanque are at an advanced stages.

But Kanimba said they are now encouraging individuals to develop less expensive projects [of up to between Rwf4 million to Rwf5 million] that can be funded by the sector based Savings and Credits Cooperatives (Saccos).

Kanimba told Saturday Times that the Saccos are an alternative to fund some projects and that the Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) had agreed to provide funds to Saccos to help them finance some of the Hanga Umurimo projects.

In Nyaruguru, 17 selected business plans have been forwarded to local Saccos for funding, according to the district mayor.

“We hope the second phase will be much more successful as Saccos will fund some of the most creative and innovative ideas,” Kanimba said.

“It is easy (for Saccos to fund the projects) now that people understand that it is better to start with less money and continue to invest more as the project grow

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