There will be no cash prizes for winners of this year's Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Business Excellence Awards.
That, however, shouldn't worry participants because organizers seem to have something much bigger.
Unlike in the past where the big fish won prizes, this year focus has shifted to small and medium enterprises, the key drivers of Rwanda's economy. For the last five years, RDB has held annual awards in which cash prizes were given to winners in various categories.
The search for Rwanda's top 100 medium-size companies has started with the organizers--Nation media Group and KPMG teaming up with RDB to give winners training opportunities and interaction with previous winners to help them learn from each.
"This is an opportunity for our SMEs to compete for regional excellence."
Similar competitions have been held in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
"This is an opportunity for our SMEs to compete for regional excellence as the award winners will have a lot to benefit from in form of trainings and interaction with other successful business models," said Vivian Kayitesi, RDB's investment promotions director. She said that partnership that brings together the top 100 SME's and the 5th series of Business Excellence Awards is a combination of expertise that will see that companies grow.
"The objective remains to promote competitiveness among the Rwandan private sector, by recognizing those companies that make a noticeable positive difference in Rwanda's economic development," she said.
The competition is open to SMEs with annual turnover of Frw50 million to Frw6 billion. Participants must presented audited accounts for the past three years, said John Ndunyu, KPMG country manager.
"The objective is to see businesses grow. If you grow beyond a turnover of Frw 6 billion, you graduate to Club 101. It encourages competition in a good way and it encourages innovation," said Ndunyu.
Kayitesi added that for the companies that have grown beyond the SME level, RDB, KPMG and NMG will be awarding them as Club 101. This will be particularly the case for companies that have graduated from the top 100 mark. Big corporate companies will be part of the Club 101 as mentors to the graduated SMEs.
"These entrepreneurs will also play a key role in influencing Rwanda's youth to embrace a culture of entrepreneurship," Kayitesi said.
KPMG is conducting a survey of Rwanda's top-100 SMEs and findings will be announced during the awards night on November 30.