12 June 2017

Rwanda: Technology Firm Launches Platform to Facilitate SMEs

Traders, suppliers and other persons involved in small and medium-sized businesses can now be able to execute their deals without having to wait for banks to give them financial credit, thanks to a new technology, dubbed 'Kountable ICT Marketplace' platform.

According to Chris Hale, the chief executive of Kountable Ltd, introducing such a portal to the market helps SMEs to easily do businesses without struggling to look for financial credits, which most of the banks hardly offer.

"All this is done by using a trade finance model. Lending isn't the only type of financing that entrepreneurs need. Trade finance has been around for hundreds of years for bigger transactions, but it took technology to make it feasible for smaller entrepreneurial businesses," he explained.

Trade finance relates to the process of financing certain activities related to commerce and international trade. It includes issuing letters of credit, factoring, export credit and insurance.

Hale said the portal, which can be accessed online (www.kountable.com) or downloaded on smartphone, will help address some of the challenges that SMEs face when it comes to overseas trade.

"The idea behind the platform was based on what we understood to be a challenge for local SMEs. These are the SMEs that are globally connected and could win good customers, most of which deal in cross-border trade.

"But banks are reluctant to deal with small businesses without significant collateral. Kountable will help re-evaluate cross-border trade transactions, and help those SMEs to procure the goods that they need to deliver on contracts," he said.

How it works

If an entrepreneur in Rwanda has a contract to set up a computer lab in a school and wants to buy computers from the US, no seller will ship computers to a small entrepreneur in Africa without getting paid first.

And the school board doesn't want to pay a small entrepreneur without seeing the goods.

"This is what trade financing is for. Kountable becomes a party in the deal and buys the computers for the entrepreneur, and then Kountable gets paid by the school and passes the money on to the entrepreneur," said Leandre Cyusa, the country manager for Kountable.

Basically, Cyusa added, small businesses are not only facilitated through trade financing but also sourcing quality things from overseas as well as in logistics.

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