The New Times (Kigali)

8 December 2012

Rwanda: The Lives Changed by Hang'Umurimo

December 08, 2012

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When Remy Uwamahoro heard about the Hang'Umurimo programme, he immediately knew it was the right time for him to seize the opportunity and grow his business.

The 33-years-old resident of Gasaka sector, Nyamagabe district, had always dreamt of running a big enterprise but had always failed to access loans due to lack of collateral.

The man, who dealt in timber, had an idea of venturing into the production of furniture to increase his revenues.

"I was in need of money, but banks had refused to offer me a loan because I did not have enough collateral for them to trust me," Uwamahoro decries.

And, when Hang'Umurimo programme was introduced, he smiled. He sat down, took a pen and paper and, detail after detail, he wrote down his business plan.

After a thorough analysis by a panel of selected economists, his business project emerged the second in the whole Nyamagabe district, qualifying him to receive financial support under the programme.

Hang'Umurimo is a programme which aims at creating more than 200,000 off farm jobs annually.

Eligible candidates under the programme consist of two categories: established entrepreneurs 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.

For Uwamahoro, the programme came as good news and a wonderful opportunity to make his dreams a reality.

When his project was presented to FINA Bank, it did not hesitate to offer him a loan.

Uwamahoro was granted a Rwf 25 million loan and received the first instalment last September while he expects the second this month; enough to fund his project.

"With the money, I bought four machines and started a joiner's workshop," he says.

And, though his investment is yet to make interests, he expects them sooner.

"I have extended my activities.

"From zero employees I had in the past, I now employ 21 people on permanent basis," he says.

"My project is growing and I hope I will start to yield fruits sooner," Uwamahoro optimistically notes.

Hang'Umurimo programme was introduced with the aim assisting aspiring entrepreneurs to access finance to fund their projects, and thus, generate jobs for members of the community.

Its rationale derives from the fact that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) not only create jobs but play a vital role in socio-economic development and are increasingly seen as central to creating and developing an entrepreneurial culture.

While launching the second phase of the programme in the Southern Province on Thursday, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Trade and Industry Emmanuel Hategeka noted that SMEs contribute significantly to employment creation, income generation and stimulation of growth in both urban and rural areas.

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