The government has continued to create a favourable environment to foster trade, investment and fast-track economic development, especially by instituting business reforms and ensuring security in the country. These efforts have gone a long way in attracting investors into the country.
To support the government’s efforts, the private sector has initiated various schemes to promote trade and investment and sustain the country’s growth.
One such effort was is the Golden Circle, which champions private sector’s role in the implementation of Rwanda’s development agenda. The group, that is comprised of the country’s elite businesses, is an exclusive networking club organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF). It is designed to bring together chief executives from Rwanda’s private sector to foster national economic growth.
It was envisaged that by bringing together strong-minded business people and captains of industry, Golden Circle would help create an environment where ideas about development, policy and economic growth could easily be exchanged and implemented.
So, has the club lived up to its ‘golden’ name since inception in March 2013?
Hannington Namara, the PSF chief executive officer, says the group is on the right track as far as steering the country’s development is concerned.
“Though we don’t have a scientific way of measuring success achieved so far, the club remains unified, acting as a champion for the private sector. There is no doubt that the group has played a tremendous role in supporting the country’s informal sector to access credit, as well as helping them in policy formulation. We have also ensured they get the right market linkages and business partnerships,” Namara said in an interview with Business Times.
According to Namara, PSF is encouraging the group’s members to invest in areas that drive growth, especially in energy, infrastructure and finance sectors.
“We are already seeing the results. However, it’s important for people to understand that when, for instance, Bralirwa distributes its products through an SME, it is actually helping that agent to grow. It’s a similar case when banks conduct financial training programmes for SMEs,” he said.
The fact is that this group is playing a critical role in driving the country’s growth, Namara noted.
What it’s done so far
Peninnah Burabyo, the Golden Circle account manager and head of membership operation, said the club has 98 members so far and is targeting 150 members by 2016.
According to Burabyo, there has been fruitful dialogue between the government and the private sector, thanks to the initiatives by Golden Circle members.
“Some of our members have been appointed to public sector policy and decision-making committees, which has enhanced public-private sector partnerships and dialogue,” Burabyo said.
She added that these interactions have helped in the formulation of policies that are private sector-friendly and, as a result, foster investment.
She said the group always invites high level experts from across the globe to share experiences to inspire local entrepreneurs, as well as sensitise them on the best practices that can help their businesses to operate sustainably and grow faster.
“Members have also full access to information on local and international business-related events on PSF agenda and its business training programmes,” she added.
The club has also reduced membership fees for SMEs who want to become members from Rwf5m to Rwf100,000.
What people think
Eric Nsabimana, a retailer in Kigali, said the club should come up with strategies that will link small-and-medium enterprises with the members of the group for mentorship and support.
“Many of us see the Golden Circle as a platform for the rich. This creates a gap between small entrepreneurs and big businesses. There is, therefore, a need for the two groups to work together so we can gain from their expertise and networks to run our enterprises better and profitably,” Nsabimana told Business Times.
Eugene Nduwumwami, an importer, said the Golden Circle initiative is a great idea that will help “bring the people that make things happen in the world of business together to inspire those trying to make it”.
John Bosco Nzeyimana, a vendor in Nyabugogo Market, said he had never heard about the investment club.
He called on the group to assist small businesses in accessing credit “because that’s our major challenge”.