The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Hanga Umurimo Programme Launched

THE Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba, has disclosed that challenges that hindered the Hanga Umurimo programme during its one year pilot stage, particularly the reluctance of banks to grant loans, hav been resolved.

To date, more than 100 projects that had requested for financing in the pilot project are still pending in banks after applicants failed to meet set guidelines.

The Minister made the remarks on Tuesday during the official launch of the programme in Kigali. The launch attracted local leaders, bankers, and programme beneficiaries.

The Hanga Umurimo programme aims at creating more off farm jobs in a bid to achieve the goal of 200,000 new jobs annually.

The minister though commended Bank of Kigali's commitment to support the programme. Out of 472 loan applications worth over Rwf3 billion, Bank of Kigali has funded 250 projects worth Rwf1.8 billion.

Rwanda Development Bank received 10 applications under the programme to finance big projects in the hospitality and food processing sectors worth Rwf5 billion.

"We are examining two projects: one on macadamia transformation and another on mushroom projects but we found that the applicants had requested for a lot of money. We are trying to find a way to reduce the amount requested. We want them to grow their businesses with us," an official with the bank explained to the meeting.

The vice governor of the central bank, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, however, cautioned the bank against a reduction of the amount of funds requested as this may lead to failure of well-thought-out ideas or established projects.

Participants, however, lauded some banks including BK, KCB Rwanda, COGEBANQUE and the Rwanda Development Bank for their efforts in financing start-up enterprises, which was not the case in the past.

Kanimba noted that his ministry has for the last one year engaged the services of one business expert in each of the country's districts to evaluate project proposals and accordingly advise the loan applicants through the Hanga Umurimo programme. However, the minister said that the project proposals would be validated by the proximity business advisory committee which consists of established business entrepreneurs in every district.

"The projects that will be validated from here will be also eligible for loans because they will most likely meet all requirements," Kanimba explained.

Eligible candidates consist of two categories: established entrepreneurs on one hand, and start-ups. Those successful from each category qualify for loans of between 70 percent and 75 percent from the Business Development Fund (BDF). BDF is a government-owned fund established in every district to fund enterprises.

The maximum amount to be received from the BDF will be Rwf10 million.

A total of 406 Umurenge Saccos have also been contracted by the ministry to grant Hanga Umurimo loans.

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