Rwanda: Business Partners International on Boosting Rwandan SMEs for Nine Years

There is no doubt that with financing, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can expand and provide employment opportunities to a number of Rwandans.

In order to fund all kinds of SMEs in Rwanda to enable them to grow, Business Partners International (BPI) established itself in Rwanda in 2011.

The firm started with $8 million, which was used to invest in more than 40 businesses.

According to Jean-Claude Mutajogire, the Country Manager of Business Partner International, the firm is a local investment company in Rwanda that provides finance to Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

BPI's financing includes businesses, youth, and women-owned businesses, whose managers normally own very limited assets and don't have required security for credit facilities.

How to apply for credit

Mutajogire explains that when a business applies for finance, its proposal is assessed on its viability, which encompasses two important elements; the entrepreneur (Integrity, drive, vision, appropriate experience) and business.

Applications are deliberated in all sectors of the economy, with the concession of on-lending activities, direct farming operations, underground mining, and non-profit organisations, he says.

Achievements

"The firm has supported more than 65 companies. The fund of $8million that we started with, has increased to $30million. Unlike banks that provide financing with a strong look at the collateral position and capital contribution, we provide financing that accommodates more risks.

"For us, the security position and capital contribution is not the key element to be considered while funding," the Country Manager says.

He clarifies that BPI looks at the viability of the business, and the firm business model can provide facility, by making proper due diligence of the business that the firm is supporting.

Other services offered

BPI also provides technical assistance, for instance, mentorship program that delivers enhanced services for the entrepreneur (business owner) that stretches from accounting support, problem-solving, marketing plans to change solutions, staff training, acquiring management information systems, automation of production processes, complying with product standards (such as ISO certification).

Customers can acquire up to 30 per cent of the foremost investment, in the form of interest-free financing to outfit for the above stated soft issues in the business.

The firm also constructs exceptional, adapted financing solutions using term loans, equity and royalties or any combination of these and offers maximum flexibility to match specific needs.

Challenges and solutions

One of the main challenges the financier encounters is making sure that the funding provided is properly handled by the beneficiaries to make sure that it serves its right purpose. This challenge was tackled through the firm due diligence mechanism that is thorough, tried and tested which allows closely monitoring that the provided funds' intended result is achieved.

BPI centers on financing sectors that can cause positive change to the economy, that is to say, projects that create employment and those that lessen imports or escalate exports.

The company trusts the ability to discover entrepreneurs and help them transform their lives, and those they encounter during their entrepreneurial undertakings.

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