Inkomoko, in partnership with MasterCard Foundation, has announced its second round of grant funding to micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) in Rwanda to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The US$2.3M fund will be disseminated to 3,500 beneficiaries beginning with 1000 in the first phase where applicants can secure US$100 to US$8,000.
The funding was announced during a webinar panel discussion on the businesses and communities recovering together that took place on Friday morning.
Inkomoko launched the fund in June, providing the first 1,000 grants to micro-enterprises in refugee camps and in surrounding host communities.
This second phase of grant funding will release another 1,000 grants to support MSMEs across Rwanda as they recover from the initial shock of the COVID-19 crisis and develop new strategies for long term business growth.
The panel discussion crew included Trade Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Diana Sayinzoga of Rwanda Development Board, Rica Rwigamba, Country Head at MasterCard Foundation, Nathalie Niyonzima, Managing Director at Inkomoko entrepreneur development, Julienne Oyler CEO at African Entrepreneur Collective, as well as Sharon Akanyana, a young entrepreneur.Niyonzima said MSMEs are the backbone of the economy and the fact that they face a barrier of tight capital should not be overlooked but rather they should be helped.
“No matter how good strategic advice is offered, sometimes small businesses still require a boost of capital to implement these strategies,” she said. “These grants will help businesses in Rwanda introduce new products, get digital, or pivot their strategies so that businesses can access customers and markets.”
Minister Hakuziyaremye talked about the efforts of the government in the recovery journey of the MSMEs that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the pandemic spread, the government faced a tough decision-making scenario; we wondered whether we should shut down the economy and save lives,” she said adding that, “But as we have seen, tough decisions were taken, but measures and policies were also put in place to help the economies that were affected get back on their feet.”
She said that among policies put in place to help enterprises were liquidity funding to banks to help them support their clients and give a breather to enterprises.
A US$100M recovery fund was allocated with a bigger percentage specific to the tourism and hospitality industry (US$50M).
Subsidized loans to enterprises affected by the COVID-19 crisis were also provided, as well as an envelope of Rwf1.3M guarantees to MSMEs that could not access the loans.
The minister also added that among other sectors that the government is helping in the recovery journey includes agro-processing.
Rica Rwigamba said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, jobs were lost and young entrepreneurs have suffered.
“So in order to ensure economic recovery different programs have been developed, such as E-learning, digital solutions to support businesses online, the relief fund, as well as listening and supporting young people,” she said.
“Strong programs will help us in knowing how to become stronger after the COVID-19 and even in case of another challenge,” Rwigamba said.
Meanwhile, Diana Sayinzoga said that this grant funding has come at the right time, right when MSMEs were suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. She also said that the government and RDB need this kind of support from other organizations.
98% of businesses in the country are MSMEs. 55% of the Inkomoko Relief fund will go to medium-sized enterprises, 27% to small businesses, and 18% to micro-businesses. Among the criteria of enterprises that will be funded includes high growth potential businesses, agribusinesses as well as the hospitality sector.
Source: Taarifa Rwanda