Rwanda: Car-Free Zone to Promote Made-in-Rwanda Products

Locally made products from young entrepreneurs and vulnerable women are set to gain a wider market thanks to free exhibition space provided by the City of Kigali in the Car-Free Zone.

Car-Free zone was introduced in 2015 to decongest the Capital's Commercial Business District.

However early this year, Marie Chantal Rwakazina, Kigali City Mayor said that the city was open to cooperation with the private sector expressing their interest to run various initiatives on the car-free zone.

To tap into the opportunities , over 100 Youth and women with Small and Medium Enterprises will, from 24th to 27th June, be exhibiting different locally made products in Kigali City's Car-Free Zone in Nyarugenge , the district that is projected be a financial hub, according to the city's master plan.

John Migambi, the coordinator of the exhibition activities that start on June 24, said the products include garments, shoes, bags, processed food and beverages, ornaments and others.

"They are mostly youth who have completed high school and managed to create their own jobs by establishing various small enterprises. They are also vulnerable women with income generating activities from different parts of the country," he said.

He said most of the entrepreneurs beat the odds starting with little startup capital.

"Some started with Rwf20,000 capital and are progressing well in terms of income generation. We also have youth in agribusiness with so many processed food and juices," he said.

These include those who recently performed well during YouthConnekt awards in December and won Rwf 5 million cash prize

"We have different innovative products of youth including those producing juice and wine from sugar canes, those producing cakes and biscuits from pumpkins and others," he said.

He added that SMEs' exhibition will soon be taken to secondary cities.

"We are discussing with the Ministry of Trade, private sector representatives in the districts and district leaders so that we organize Made in Rwanda Exhibition tour in all districts," he added.

According to figures indicated by SMEs policy, they comprise approximately 98% of the total businesses in Rwanda and account for 41% of all private sector employment.

The vast majority of SMEs (93.07%) work in commerce and services.

This is followed by 1.86% in professional services, 1.66% in Arts & Crafts, 1.33% in industry, 0.94% in financial services, 0.7% in tourism and 0.45% in agriculture and livestock.

While presenting the 2019/2020 budget framework last week, Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana said that supporting Made-in-Rwanda products will increase domestic productivity

He presented key achievements in supporting SMEs and their Made-in-Rwanda Products in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

"With regards to the support of Made-in-Rwanda to increase domestic productivity, 432 SMEs were supported to access finance through the Business Development Fund (BDF); 805 TVET graduates were supported to access the start-up toolkit loan facility in different disciplines.

Youth and Women from 5,025 small enterprises were trained to access finance while 507 jobs for youth were created through Youth Eco Brigade Program," he said.

He noted that key strategic interventions under export promotion and Made in Rwanda Policy continue to be devised.

Since the launch of the Made-in-Rwanda campaign in 2015, the country's total exports increased by 69 per cent, from $559 million in 2015 to $944 million in 2017.

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