The SME Response Clinic is a digital platform powered by ConsumerCentriX, Access to Finance Rwanda, and Rwanda Private Sector Federation to support small and medium enterprises in Rwanda struggling to adjust to the economic realities of COVID-19. To provide much-needed training opportunities for the entrepreneurs, the SME Response Clinic joined forces with the African Management Institute.

Testimonial: Matthew Rwahigi, Owner, Thella Café – Saturday May 30, 2020

Matthew Rwahigi, a small business owner in Gisozi, was hit hard when the COVID-19 lockdowns began in Kigali. Luckily, as a participant in AMI’s trainings for small businesses, he learned the skills to negotiate with suppliers and his landlords and to make the tough decisions needed to help his business survive.

“The conversations and hearing from other colleagues through the AMI workshops, you feel like you’re not alone. At first I thought maybe I was in the wrong business, this was a bad idea, I just burnt my savings for no good reasons. But then you hear other people and you feel that you are in this with so many others. It gives you the strength to stay the course and find the resources to manage.”

What was most valuable for you about the AMI trainings?

First, I learned to focus on learning how to manage a business. I got to focus a bit on my business. Since I Getting to focus a bit – I hadn’t done business in the past, I did not have the tools and skills to plan and make tough decisions, like having to lay off staff.

Second, I benefited from networking and finding out what other people are going through. I learned a lot from this. I really value the community of business people and their input, because if my business is going to survive, I need these relationships. Now at least I have some knowledge, and if my business doesn’t survive, and if I started another business I would be better informed, and more empowered.

How has AMI supported you?

AMI is there when you need to ask a question, to give you tips and ideas. There is an online business portal with tools and courses, and these are important in continuing to build skills.

“The AMI group really helped us in empowering us to feel that this is not the end of the road, to have a feeling that yes, there is a pandemic but you can still try to tune your business up a bit to survive the pandemic, and even have an opportunity to continue after the pandemic.”