The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: New Fund to Boost Women, Youth Enterpreneurs

In a bid to empower women and the youth to overcome poverty, the government yesterday launched a fund that will help increase access to finance to start income generating activities.

The fund is championed by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Business Development Fund and the Rwanda Cooperative Agency.

To make the initiative efficient and effective to its targeted beneficiaries, stakeholders yesterday met to discuss on the mechanisms through which it will be implemented.

Dubbed 'Women and Youth Access to Finance', would-be beneficiaries will be required to join cooperatives. The fund, worth Rwf 15 billion, will be operational for the next five years.

"Women and youth will be supported given their commitment in working through cooperatives as this will fight unemployment given the schemes we expect them to start," said Julienne Munyaneza, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.

Although the programme will be overseen by BDF, it will be executed through Business Development Centres and lending institutions as part of the implementation of the partnerships signed between the two parties.

In addition to easy access to finance, the initiative also has a capacity building component to conduct training on financial literacy to empower beneficiaries to manage their businesses professionally.

"We are not only considering giving beneficiaries' access to finance, but also concerned on how best they utilise the money they get to ensure that we meet our target or expectations," she said.

Access to finance from lending institutions is one of the major challenges facing business start-ups, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), something attributed to lack of collateral. Munyaneza is optimistic that the new initiative will serve its intended purpose.

The initiative will first operate in six districts natably Nyaruguru, Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Nyamasheke, Karongi and Ruhango before it is rolled out countrywide.

Janet Kanyambo, the Fund Manager at BDF, said that the fund, that will primarily target the rural population, is expected to reduce on financial exclusion, which stands at 28.1 per cent, according to this year's Fin scope survey conducted by Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR).

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