Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: Hanga Umurimo Program Good to Go After Pilot Project Success

The ministry of trade and industry's Hanga Umurimo (create a job) concept has been proven a success after achievements registered by the pilot project.

The project launched late last year as a test to see whether the model could help in government's efforts to create millions of off-farm jobs in eight years, was closed last week with huge evidence that it's good to go.

According to information presented by the Trade and Industry Permanent secretary (PS) Emmanuel Hategeka, at least 16,000 business proposals were submitted by Rwandans from across the country in the first two weeks after mobilization, an indication of the hunger among citizens to start and own a business.

Yet of the 16,000 applications, 1,500 business ideas ( 50 from each of the 30 districts) were picked for consideration to receive training on business plan development and writing.

The numbers kept being trimmed and from fifty per district, the next level could only accommodate 20 applicants who had triumphed in the business planning trainings and therefore qualified to be linked up with financial institutions for funding.

A total of 300 bankable business ideas were identified and linked to financial institutions including commercial banks which then coached to be beneficiaries on basic financial and business management skills.

The Trade and Industry Minister, Francois Kanimba, revealed last week that 74% of the 300 successful business plans have already been approved for funding with those whose projects couldn't be funded by commercial banks promised support from the Government's Business Development Fund (BDF) and other financial institutions.

Bank of Kigali was especially applauded for giving the most amount of funding to the participants.

The business proposals to be funded according to the ministry have the capacity to create at least 4,982 jobs in the next three years and with the official launch of the program it means many more will be created from project proposals to be submitted in next year's competition.

"Hanga Umurimo is therefore now going to be an annual opportunity for people to advance ideas and be helped to start jobs. It will be in addition to other Government initiatives that aim to achieve the same thing," Kanimba remarked.

1.5 million jobs

The Government's annual job creation target is about 200,000 jobs per year as pledged in President Kagame's seven year plan which should see a total of about 1.5 million jobs created by end of his term.

As of 2011, the Minister reckons at least 1.4 million off-farm jobs, (28% of the general work force) had been created, an achievement made possible by increased government support local entrepreneurship by especially youth and women.

The figure is not far from the 2020 ambition, which is targeting at least 3.5 million off-farm jobs which is about 50% of the entire labor force in the country.

With a number of initiatives such as the Work Development Authority (WDA) whose mandate is to promote vocational and technical skills among Rwandans, PSF's Business Plan competition, several government business incubation centers for ICT and other sectors and now the Hanga Umurimo, made Minister Kanimba sound confident of hitting or even knocking over the 2020 vision.

While several applicants are delighted at having received the money, many others couldn't get funds simply because they couldn't raise 25% required as their own contribution. "It's the main problem hindering entrepreneurship as people have ideas but can't help in co-funding arrangements," noted the Minister.

While over 70% of the successful applications were for start-up businesses, already active business owners who participated found it easier to get funding as they already had some money and experience which boosted banks' confidence in them.

In the next HangaUmurimo program, applicants have been urged to be realistic while drawing their budgets. "Because we want them to start small and grow big, that's the goal," Kanimba said.

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MicarMukanyamibwa, a 28-year-old lady is one of the beneficiaries whose business plan has already received a loan of RWF27 million from KCB payable in four years.

"I am engaged in making sweaters and t-shirts for schools and while I have been working at this business for some years, my dream to grow big has been boosted by this project because I now have money to grow my business," said the lady whose business employs at least 30 other women.

Eugene Ngagijimana from Kamonyi District in Rwanda's Southern Province is also in the process of getting a loan from Bank of Kigali to boast his cooking oil making business which provides direct and indirect employment to over 150 locals in his district.

"I have been operating on a small level but HangaUmurimo project will enable me to grow to the next level and already I am planning to open an out let in Kigali city," says the man who came up with the oil processing idea after losing his job with an NGO.

He employs over 100 farmers who grow soya bean and other cereals which he uses to make the cooking oil, selling a litre of his products at about US$4.

Brigitte Uwange from Nyabihu district, in Rwanda's Western Province has been funded to develop her hotel business in the rural district where accommodation for visiting officials has been a problem for long.

She says she needed RWF90 million to do the necessary works on her hotel and that through the project, she's on course to achieve her ambitions.

Fortunate Nyirasabimana from Kirehe district in Northern Rwanda has proposed a garage in her rural district and she has been funded to get a loan to buy the necessary machinery to run a professional facility which she says employs around ten youths.

"There wasn't a single garage in my district and my business will not only create jobs but also serve a much needed service," she remarked.

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