The Minister of Trade and Industry (Minicom), Francois Kanimba, has said there is a need to create 1.8 million new off-farm jobs by 2020. This move will help the country achieve the target of 50 per cent of active population absorbed in off-farm jobs.
According to the minister, off-farm jobs registered last year were 1.4 million while the active population is estimated to be 6.4 million by 2020; thus making imperative to create 1.8 new jobs along the time or 200,000 every year.
"This is one of the mechanisms to deal with unemployment issue in the country," he said, adding that it's in line with the country's vision to become a middle income country by 2020 through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) promotion.
The minister was on Monday talking to districts authorities, cooperative officers, Rural Small and Medium Enterprises Facilitators (RSMEs) of Kigali city during a one day awareness campaign for Hanga Umurimo program (HUP) in the city.
Kanimba was addressing the officials so that they can own the program after that its pilot phase launched last year has revealed a high demand of Rwandans who are very keen to create their own jobs.
He said Hanga Umurimo was initiated after realizing that there were no other sustainable programs that were dedicated to support people with bright ideas who had no access to finance.
The pilot phase attracted more than 16,000 business ideas countrywide; which has revealed that 'a strong demand exists', according the minister.
"It's promising to see that entrepreneurship culture is really rising among Rwandans," said the minister.
While there was no limit for startup business, the minister explained, the following phases oblige a startup capital of less than Frw 10 million so that the Business Development Fund (BDF) can guarantee the project up to 75%, though the projects can keep expanding. BDF, a government agency, provides collateral to promote SMEs.
In addition, the program will be supporting existing SMEs not exceeding three years in business experience and wishing to expand their business, he explained. At this category, BDF will be able to guarantee projects of less than Frw 30 million.
"We learnt from the pilot phase that we should advise people to start their business with small capital and expand their business along the move instead of starting with huge investment that they can't manage," the minister explained.
During the pilot phase, 20 business plans per district or 600 business plans countrywide were entitled to be connected to financial institutions for finance to implement their business. 478 business plans were taken to banks. Contrary to the pilot phase, there will not be limit of business plans to be supported in a district, yet application process will be happening throughout the year.