Stanbic Business Incubator

Business Training During the Pandemic: Experiences, Lessons and Recommendations from the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited 

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

As the pandemic enters its third year, governments and the private sector reflect on the lessons learned from COVID-19. The last two years have yielded extensive data on how external shocks and crisis response can affect the business community.  

Stanbic Business Incubator Limited (SBIL) has played a key role in supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Uganda, guiding many businesses through the pandemic’s perpetual twists and turns while helping them to make sense of the information overflow. To benefit from these lessons, the COVID-19 Business Info Hub will highlight SBIL’s experience throughout the pandemic in an effort to benefit the Ugandan business community. 

Founded in 2018 and operating under Stanbic Uganda Holdings Limited, the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited runs capacity building and entrepreneurship development programs for SMEs. In 2021 alone,  SBIL managed to train over 700 business owners from various sectors and more than 4500 entrepreneurs across Uganda. Drawing from SBIL’s experience in training SMEs through the pandemic, this series will focus on the experience of the Incubator’s experts and training staff through interviews and first-hand discussions. Our readers can expect insight into different topics, including: 

  • A high-level overview of SBIL’s impact, responses, and opportunities for SMEs as they navigate the pandemic 
  • An exploration of SBIL’s partnerships and upcoming programs helps to outline what it prioritizes for members of the business development workshop. 
  • Reflecting on 2021’s selection of training programs, Incubator staff discuss the experience of the program’s exiting alumni so businesses can learn from their peers 
  • First-hand interviews with alumni and non-members help to better understand SMEs biggest needs while sharing frontline experience as they navigate the pandemic 

Over the next five articles, we’ll help SMEs understand the unfolding business environment with experience from SBIL’s practitioners, managers and businessowners. Readers are likely to find business insights that will help in developing new strategies and tactics to maintain their business competitiveness while responding to the fast-changing conditions of an evolving pandemic. 

Interested businessowners may be interested in SBIL’s upcoming schedule of master classes, training events, cohorts and partnership events. Similarly, readers may be interested in the Compassionate Leadership Webinar Series, which provides training through a slate of webinars. Updates on all these programs and more will be available on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub. 

Ultimately, the coming series of articles provides opportunity for businesses to benefit from peer-learning and the guidance of an industry stalwart. We look forward to you joining us.  

 


agribusiness

What we learned this month about how to promote recovery in Uganda’s agribusiness sector

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

In July, the COVID-19 Business Info Hub focused its efforts on understanding recovery mechanisms and opportunities for the agribusiness sector. We engaged with many stakeholders, including SMEs, financing institutions, and organizations offering support to the industry. Here is what we learnt!

 

The agribusiness sector has faced a number of challenges. 

Just as SMEs were recovering from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second wave hit the country in May 2021. This led to another lockdown during June and July, which has brought more difficulties for SMEs operating in this environment. Some of the challenges faced by the businesses include:

  • Supply chain disruptions especially delayed transportation both by road and air cargo for agricultural inputs and products because of movement restrictions.
  • Working capital constraints because of reduced sales and delayed payments, which affect operational efficiency.
  • Reduced demand and price for agricultural products because buyers cannot easily access markets due to the lockdown.
  • Increased cost in retaining essential human resources as businesses work to keep staff on the payroll despite reduced operations to avoid losing critical talent to competition.

As a result of these challenges, SMEs have used up their cash reserves and thus need financial and non-financial support to recover.

 

Several organizations are providing support to help agribusinesses recover. 

Different sector players that we spoke to shared interventions they have in place to support businesses to stay afloat during the pandemic. Some are included here below:

aXiom Zorn creates digital profiles for farmers and agribusinesses to enable them to access financial services. The digital profiles capture data that builds a credit score for the farmer or the business. A credit score of 60% allows the farmer or agribusiness to access financing from a bank.

Stanbic Bank Uganda provides affordable loans to Savings Credit and Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) and farmer groups. SACCOs and farmer groups receiving these funds can then offer affordable loans to their members. Learn more about other interventions of the bank to reduce the financing gap in the financial sector.

Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) promotes access to agricultural inputs by availing subsidized inputs to farmers to plant within the season. aBi Finance has also tweaked its credit guarantee product for partner financial institutions to help them to lend to customers with better terms.

Palladium is implementing a program to link farmers to service providers and markets via commercial agents. Through the model, over 80 businesses have benefitted to date with increased income.

 

Agribusinesses can implement a three-step plan to speed up the road to recovery. 

SMEs need to seek information to understand the shifts in the consumption, production and trade within the sector to plan for recovery and build resilience. Here is a three-step recovery pathway that SMEs can adopt;

  • Reflect: Pause and think about the impact COVID-19 has had on the business. Analyze what has worked during the period, lessons learnt and what needs to change. Then, adopt a holistic work approach to consolidate the best practices and manage change while maintaining a safe work environment.
  • Restart: Identify steps required to “restart” – maybe a new business process, a new product, or service line to fit in the new normal. Mobilize the necessary resources and take action.
  • Revitalize: Revisit the business environment to seize available opportunities along the value chain. SMEs need to optimize opportunities within the supply chain. They can improve volume flexibility, enhance delivery performance and identify areas where technology can help streamline processes to minimize costs.

 

For faster sector recovery, stakeholders also need to actively engage with the businesses to help them innovate and expand into new markets more than ever before.

 

SMEs can access information on:

Agribusiness financing from Stanbic Bank Uganda  

Call: 0800250250

WhatsApp: 0770588623

Visit:  www.stanbic.co.ug

 

Innovative digital solutions from aXiom Zorn 

Tel: +256 200 951 713/+256 200 903 099

Email: info@axiomzorn.com

Visit:  https://axiomzorn.com/

 

Commercial Agent Model from Palladium

Tel:   +256 774 040751

Email: jackline.kitongo@thepalladiumgroup.com

Visit: https://thepalladiumgroup.com/


Uncertain Times

Managing Through Uncertain Times  

Managing Through Uncertain Times  

A version of this article was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic

The SME Response Clinic spoke with Ruzindana Gerald, a nutritionist from Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, a business supporting people with healthy nutritional practices to promote physical and mental wellness. Gerald shared some of the common challenges entrepreneurs have faced in recent months due to the pandemic and tips entrepreneurs can use to mitigate those challenges. These include:   

  • Disruption to normal routines for example lesser operating hours due to curfew. This may make it hard to meet deadlines, find time to efficiently and productively serve your clients or even take breaks for re-energizing.   
  • Rising anxiety and stress from situations you cannot control. For example, irrespective of the current situation, you still have to deal with expenses such as rent, salaries, and taxes.  
  • Lack of concentration or a sense of not knowing what to focus on next due to lesser interactions with clients and suppliers.  
  • Negative effects on our health or state of mind such as  
    • Loss or increase of appetite and craving 
    • Changes in our mood due to loneliness at the workplace or working remotely
    • Inability to sleep arising from stress and anxiety  
    • Decrease in physical activity due to periodic lockdowns 

To mitigate these challenges, Gerald suggested tips that would help entrepreneurs make better decisions, lead employees and make changes to survive the pandemic and ongoing lockdown. They include:  

  • Try to rise at the same time each day and organize your day including time for work, meals, light exercise, and family obligations. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night.  
  • Carve out time for exercise – even 20 minutes of light stretching, a short walk, or even dancing at home can help clear your mind.  
  • Make sure you make time for meals and try to eat healthy foods when you can. Some examples of healthy foods are vegetables and fruits. These can help boost your immunity, giving you more energy to run your business.  
  • Reach out to your networks. Send messages, make calls, or video chat when you can with your friends and family. Checking in with your clients, employees, and suppliers to see how they are doing will also go a long way! Share your own thoughts and experiences so that they feel connected, too.  

These are just a few tips – different things work for different people, so try things out and see what works for you.  

 

For more information contact: Tel: +250 784 465 520

Email: ruzindanagerald@gmail.com 


Building resilience

Building resilience for your small business through challenging times

A version of this article was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic

As Rwanda faces an uptick in COVID-19 infections and the government mandates new measures aimed at preventing a third wave, the SME Response Clinic wants to take a moment to recognize the challenges you face as a small business owner. Entrepreneurs like you have come so far in navigating the unchartered waters of a truly unprecedented health and economic crisis, but new developments indicate that there is further yet to go.

Micro-, small- and medium-enterprises (MSMEs) make up 97% of businesses in the country, contributing to 55% of total GDP and employing over 40% of Rwanda’s population (Microsave Report, 2017). The start and stop of operations for many if not most businesses over the past year and a half has had a tremendous impact on the economy but also importantly on the financial health of individual entrepreneurs like you and, importantly, your families. In addition to and often caused by the significant negative economic impact resulting from the pandemic, we are all struggling with challenges that affect our wellbeing. Increased levels of stress and anxiety make our day-to-day even tougher. Studies of entrepreneurs in Rwanda (as well as globally) undertaken in recent months indicate that business owners are facing high levels of anxiety caused by uncertainty about the future.

This uncertainty is not surprising as you work to navigate new and rapidly evolving regulations, make changes to your business operations to work to stay afloat, and manage relationships with your suppliers and customers remotely rather than face-to-face. You do all of this while working to ensure your families are healthy and safe.

Since our launch in May 2020, the SME Response Clinic has sought to provide you with updates and tips relevant to managing your business through the various challenges that have arisen and continue to arise as a result of the pandemic. Now, we want to offer you the opportunity to also focus on yourself so that you can in turn better manage your business, positively impacting your family, your employees, and your community at large.

Over the next few months, we will be providing simple tools to support you in building business resilience. These will include short videos, articles, and audio recordings that you can use to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook in the months ahead.

Stay in touch with us at smeresponseclinic@gmail.com and remember to stay safe!


agribusiness sector.

Stanbic Bank Uganda is helping to reduce the financing gap in the agribusiness sector.

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

Melisa Nyakwera, Head Agribusiness at Stanbic Bank Uganda, spoke with the COVID-19 Business Info Hub on the banks’ initiatives to reduce the financing gaps for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. 

Stanbic Bank Uganda’s initiatives to reduce the financing gap in the agribusiness sector

Stanbic Bank Uganda has the following initiatives to facilitate access to finance for the sector:

  • The bank uses the One Farm platform to profile farmers and agribusinesses. We understand their needs and provide solutions such as input financing, agronomy training, insurance, and information on markets.
  • Stanbic Bank Uganda is increasing access to affordable finance to the farmers through their SACCOs and farmer groups by lending to the SACCOs and farmer groups at a subsidized interest rate.
  • The bank provides several financial products to the sector, including short-term and long-term loans, invoice discounting, stock financing, and asset financing.
  • Using the Flexi pay wallet, clients receive and pay for services or commodities from one wallet to another at no charge.

Keep in mind that agribusinesses need to have in place good business records, plans and a clear strategy to access financing during these challenging times.

For more information call: 0800250250 or WhatsApp: 0770588623

What is the role of Stanbic Bank Uganda in the agribusiness sector?

Stanbic Bank Uganda’s agribusiness segment works with all customers within the agriculture space. We look at the value chain from input suppliers, smallholder farmers, aggregators, and processors. We also engage with non-government organizations (NGOs), development institutions and ministry agencies working together to make a difference. Our role is running through that whole value chain to understand the needs of different actors and develop solutions to meet the requirements. We ensure that the solutions help them achieve their needs, and in case they require long term support, we work and walk with them along that journey.

 

How is the bank facilitating access to finance for the agribusiness sector? 

The bank has several initiatives in place to facilitate access to finance for the agribusiness sector.

First, we’ve got a new initiative called the One Farm platform. Here, we partner with Agri-techs, who collect data from farmers and agribusinesses, analyze it to understand their requirements and provide solutions through the platform. Some of the services offered include input financing, agronomy training, insurance and information on markets. This initiative has helped to improve financial inclusion for several actors in the agribusiness value chain.

The bank has come together with several funding partners to provide affordable loans to Savings Credit and Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) and farmer groups.  SACCOs receiving these funds can offer affordable loans to their members as well. We are also helping the SACCOs and farmer groups digitize records for a faster lending process.  Funding partners include Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The third initiative is through the bank’s conventional offerings, which cut across the different value chain players from actual farmers, input providers to processors. Essentially, we have short-term and long-term loans, invoice discounting, stock financing, and versatile asset financing. We also have the Flexi pay wallet that enables users to receive and pay for services and commodities from one electronic wallet to another at no charge.

 

What can SMEs do to overcome disruptions resulting from the pandemic effects?

We all understand the impact of the pandemic, and we need to protect ourselves and keep safe. It means we have to go into the digital marketplace. Embracing digital tools will keep you safe and enable you to reach more customers than opting for face to face interactions.

Suppose businesses want to last and withstand the pandemic effects. In this case, they need good business plans, financial records and a strategy to follow through during this period. It will ease access to financing that they can use for operations to adapt to the current and future changes.

Financial institutions also need to play more in this space by supporting SMEs prepare the necessary records and plans to access the financing required.

 

For more information and access to Stanbic Bank’s Agri-banking Team;

Call: 0800250250

WhatsApp: 0770588623

Website: www.stanbic.co.ug

Visit any of our over 60 branches countrywide!

 

 


SMEs in Agribusiness

Building resilience for SMEs in the Agribusiness sector post COVID-19

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

This month, the COVID-19 Business Info Hub seeks to understand how the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Agribusiness sector can remain resilient after the pandemic. We will feature insights from different players in the Agribusiness Ecosystem. We will explore the pandemic’s disruptions on the Agribusiness supply chain, learn about the sector’s challenges and opportunities, and provide insights on what to do to stay afloat. We will provide you and your business information on the available interventions and support that you can take advantage of to grow your business.

Before the pandemic, SMEs in the Agribusiness sector were vibrant and engaged in significant value addition with the food system. They created employment along the value chains in agricultural trade, farm services and inputs, agro-processing, urban retailing and food services. However, when the pandemic hit, the sector suffered adverse effects, especially disruption of the supply chain and reduction in market demand. Although SMEs tried to respond by adopting digital solutions to access information on production, training services, and access to finance and markets, business still remains low. Nevertheless, as the economy is slowly opening up after months of lockdown and restricted movement, SMEs are slowly seeking to build back businesses.

Stakeholders, therefore, need to design interventions that support SMEs to continue playing their critical role within the sector. Interventions should help SMEs cope with the economic and financial implications of the pandemic. For example, help them strengthen their digital capacity through training and provide them with relevant information for business continuity. Successful implementation of these interventions will enable SMEs to become innovative, build resilience, and manage the current pandemic effects. They will also withstand continued market uncertainty and position for more robust post-COVID trade.

Are you interested in learning how some of the Agribusinesses managed to survive the pandemic? Do you want to know more about the policies and initiatives to help you stay resilient and grow your business? Then, keep following The Covid-19 Business Information Hub this month for more insights and relevant resources in the Agribusiness sector!


SME Response Clinic Business Awards

Winners of SME Response Clinic Business Awards Announced

Press Release - For Immediate Release

Kigali, Rwanda - 30 April 2021

Access to Finance Rwanda, ConsumerCentriX, and Partners Announce Winners of SME Response Clinic Business Awards 

  • Three diverse Rwandan businesses win inaugural SME Response Clinic Business Awards with Rwf 1,000,000 prize 
  • Winners selected from 1,200 nominations across the country 
  • Five runners-up awarded 6-month business skills course 

Access to Finance Rwanda and ConsumerCentriX today announced the winners of the inaugural SME Response Clinic Business Awards following the Twiteze Imbere campaign to recognise the role of small businesses in Rwanda’s road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Through the campaign, the general public nominated their favourite small businesses, giving their nominees the chance to win an SME Response Clinic Business Award. The competition featured three categories: women-owned businesses, start-up or innovative businesses, and established businesses. Rwandans made online nominations via the SME Response Clinic website and over the phone. 

The three winning small businesses and five runners-up were selected from among 30 shortlisted companies after careful and thorough deliberation. Access to Finance Rwanda and ConsumerCentriX are pleased to announce that the winners and runners-up are: 

  • Women-owned business category: 
    1. Winner: Kurema Kureba Kwiga, a public-arts social enterprise located in Kigali 
    2. Runner-up: Kicirwanda, an art and craft store based in Kigali 
  • Startup/Innovative business category: 
    1. Winner: HADI Constructions, a construction consulting firm based in Nyagatare District 
    2. Runners-up: Bhiku Bakery from Rwamagana District and Johnson’s Bakery from Kicukiro District 
  • Established business category: 
    1. Winner: Umucyo Company, a liquid soap manufacturer based in Kirehe District 
    2. Runners-up: Blessed Garden, a female-owned guest house based in Kayonza District, and Crema, a coffee shop located in Musanze District 

The awards come as a result of the SME Response Clinic campaign ‘Twiteze Imbere’ (Let’s Move Forward Together), which celebrated the resilience of small businesses and recognised their contribution to Rwanda’s economic recovery. The SME Response Clinic is a platform developed by Access to Finance Rwanda and ConsumerCentriX in collaboration with the Private Sector Federation, the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, African Management Institute, New Faces New Voices Rwanda, and Rwanda Bankers’ Association. 

“Congratulations to the winners and runners-up of the SME Response Clinic Business Awards. In just a few weeks, we received 1,200 nominations from across the country. We were pleased to see great diversity among the nominated small businesses, enthusiasm from their customers, and the impact they are having in their communities on our journey of COVID-19 recovery,” said Jean Bosco Iyacu, Country Director, Access to Finance Rwanda. 

“We are grateful to everyone who took part in the Twiteze Imbere campaign, partner institutions as well as media partners who helped us spread the word. It’s rewarding to see the SME Response Clinic reaching small businesses in every corner of this country and we will continue to support them in these difficult times and beyond,” he added. 

“I am honoured and excited to be one of the winners of the SME Response Clinic Business Awards. This award recognises the important role of the creative industry in the economy and the prize money will support my business to grow. Thank you to the SME Response Clinic and its partners for organising this campaign and for looking out for small businesses,” said Judith Kaine, Director of Kurema Kureba Kwiga, one of the winning businesses. 

The winner in each category receives a cash prize of Rwf 1,000,000 to invest in their business as well as expert advisory services. Runners-up will be sponsored to participate in the African Management Institute‘s Survive to Thrive programme where they will learn how to navigate business challenges and network with other entrepreneurs in Rwanda and across Africa. 

About the SME Response Clinic 

In May 2020, Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) partnered with ConsumerCentriX to launch the SME Response Clinic – a platform that supports entrepreneurs in Rwanda struggling in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SME Response Clinic provides access to training, industry insights, and financial management advice to entrepreneurs in Rwanda struggling to adjust to the economic realities of COVID-19. Access the platform at smeresponse.clinic 

About Access to Finance Rwanda 

AFR began its operations in 2010 with the core objective of stimulating the development of the financial sector in Rwanda. AFR’s intention is to remove the systemic barriers that hinder access to financial services by putting low-income people particularly the rural poor and women at the centre of its interventions. AFR supports the development and provision of financial services including savings, credit, insurance, payments, and remittances. Learn more at afr.rw. 

About ConsumerCentriX 

ConsumerCentriX is a strategy consulting firm that works with financial service providers and policymakers on translating consumer insights into market strategies and policies to reach the un/underserved. Our mission is to develop scalable solutions that are based on deep insights into the lives, needs, and constraints of un/underserved people in emerging markets to improve their livelihoods and create opportunities for economic growth. 

Media Contact 

For any enquiries, write to Nadege Nzeyimana, AFR Communications Consultant, at nadege@afr.rw. 


IN THE NEWS | Ibigo by’ubucuruzi buto birakangurirwa kwitabira ubukangurambaga bwa “Twiteze Imbere”

Ibigo by’ubucuruzi buto birakangurirwa kwitabira ubukangurambaga bwa “Twiteze Imbere”

Ubukangurambaga bwa “Twiteze Imbere” bwateguwe n’abafatanyabikorwa b’ihuriro rya ‘SME Response Clinic’ mu rwego rwo gushyigikira no kuzirikana uruhare rw’ibigo by’ubucuruzi buto mu kuzahura ubukungu bw’u Rwanda bwazahajwe n’icyorezo cya COVID-19.

Kimwe mu bikorwa bigize ubwo bukangurambaga ni irushanwa rishishikariza abantu gutanga amazina y’ibigo by’ubucuruzi bito babona bigira imikorere myiza. Ibigo by’ubucuruzi bizatsinda bikazahabwa igihembo cya miliyoni imwe y’Amafaranga y’u Rwanda (1.000.000Frw) hamwe na serivisi z’ubujyanama zitangwa n’impuguke mu bucuruzi.

Icyiciro cy’ubucuruzi buzatsinda ku mwanya wa kabiri kizahabwa inkunga yo gukurikirana amahugurwa atangwa n’Ikigo Nyafurika Kigamije Guteza Imbere Imiyoborere (AMI), yiswe “Komeza Utere Imbere – Survive to Thrive”. Binyuze kuri ayo mahugurwa, ba rwiyemezamirimo bazunguka ubuhanga, bahabwe ibikoresho byabugenewe, bige n’ingamba zabafasha guhangana n’ibibazo bagakomeza gutera imbere muri ibi bihe bikomeye byatewe n’icyorezo cya COVID-19. Nanone, bazahahurira n’abandi bacuruzi bo mu Rwanda no muri Afurika.

Umuyobozi wa Access to Finance Rwanda, Iyacu Jean Bosco, asobanura uko SME Response Clinic ifasha ibigo by’ubucuruzi, agira ati “Urubuga rwa SME Response Clinic rufasha ba rwiyemezamirimo kubona amahugurwa, amakuru n’inama ku buryo bwo gukora ubucuruzi neza mu bihe turimo, n’inama mu bijyanye n’imicungire y’imari mu rwego rwo guhangana n’ibibazo by’ubukungu byatejwe na Covid-19”.

Yongeraho ko SME Response Clinic ari umushinga uhuriweho n’abafatanyabikorwa aribo Access to Finance Rwanda, Consumer CentriX, Urugaga rw’Abikorera mu Rwanda (PSF), Ishyirahamwe ry’Ibigo by’Imari Iciriritse mu Rwanda (AMIR), Ikigo Nyafurika Kigamije Guteza Imbere Imiyoborere (AMI), New Faces New Voices Rwanda, n’Ishyirahamwe ry’Amabanki mu Rwanda (RBA).


Rwanda’s economic recovery

IN THE NEWS | FEATURED: SME Response Clinic in campaign to support small businesses’ post-Covid-19 recovery

FEATURED: SME Response Clinic in campaign to support small businesses’ post-Covid-19 recovery

In a bid to recognise the role of small businesses in Rwanda’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, Access to Finance Rwanda and partners of the SME Response Clinic are running a campaign dubbed ‘Twiteze Imbere’.

The campaign, meaning ‘Let’s Move Forward Together,’ is supporting enterprises to overcome challenges and acknowledges their importance in job creation and Rwanda’s ongoing economic transformation.

Through resources and learning opportunities, the SME Response Clinic online platform provides access to training, industry insights, and financial management advice to entrepreneurs in Rwanda.

The campaign has been organised in collaboration with ConsumerCentriX, the Private Sector Federation, the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, African Management Institute, New Faces New Voices Rwanda and the Rwanda Bankers’ Association.

A key feature of the campaign is to celebrate exceptional businesses through the inaugural SME Response Clinic Business Awards and to encourage entrepreneurs to utilise the SME Response Clinic.

As part of the campaign, people across Rwanda can nominate their favourite small businesses.


Rwanda’s COVID-19 Recovery

SME Response Clinic Launches Campaign to Recognise the Role of Small Businesses in Rwanda’s COVID-19 Recovery

Press Release - For Immediate Release

Kigali, Rwanda - 18 March 2021

SME Response Clinic Launches Campaign to Recognise the Role of Small Businesses in Rwanda’s COVID-19 Recovery

A version of this Press Release was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic

The SME Response Clinic, a platform powered by Access to Finance Rwanda and ConsumerCentriX in collaboration with the Private Sector Federation, the Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda, African Management Institute, New Faces New Voices Rwanda, and Rwanda Bankers’ Association, has today launched a campaign to recognise and celebrate the role of small businesses in Rwanda’s road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The SME Response Clinic is a platform launched in 2020 to support small and medium-sized enterprises to overcome challenges brought about by COVID-19 through resources and learning opportunities.

The three-week campaign is called ‘Twiteze Imbere’ (Let’s Move Forward Together) and will share stories of small business resilience, encourage entrepreneurs and business owners to utilise SME Response Clinic resources, and celebrate exceptional businesses through the inaugural SME Response Clinic Business Awards.

Over the course of the campaign, the general public and other business owners will be invited to nominate their favourite small businesses for a SME Response Clinic Business Award. Nominations are open in the categories of women-owned businesses, start-up or innovative businesses, and established businesses. The winner in each category will receive a cash prize of one million Rwandan francs to invest in their business as well as expert advisory services. Nominations are open from 18 March until 2 April 2021. Selected runners-up will be sponsored to participate in the African Management Institute’s Survive to Thrive programme. Through this programme, business owners will be equipped with the skills, tools, and strategies to navigate challenges and thrive in difficult times, and network with other entrepreneurs in Rwanda and across Africa.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Rwanda’s economy and employ the vast majority of people across the country. The ‘Twiteze Imbere’ campaign celebrates this and recognises their contribution to Rwanda’s recovery from the pandemic. I encourage all Rwandans to nominate their favourite small business for the SME Response Clinic Business Awards as a great way to show support for local business and the role they play in our day-to-day lives,” said Jean Bosco Iyacu, Country Director, Access to Finance Rwanda.

“We’re delighted to launch this campaign to celebrate the tremendous resilience of entrepreneurs in Rwanda. The SME Response Clinic Business Awards are one way we hope to honor and further support the small businesses that have been pillars of the communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anna Gincherman, Partner, ConsumerCentriX.

Learn more about the campaign and nominate your favourite small business at www.smeresponse.clinic/awards or by calling 0781024420.

About the SME Response Clinic

In May 2020, Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) partnered with ConsumerCentriX to launch the SME Response Clinic – a platform that supports entrepreneurs in Rwanda struggling in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The SME Response Clinic provides access to training, industry insights, and financial management advice to entrepreneurs in Rwanda struggling to adjust to the economic realities of COVID-19. Access the platform at smeresponse.clinic

About Access to Finance Rwanda

AFR began its operations in 2010 with the core objective of stimulating the development of the financial sector in Rwanda. AFR’s intention is to remove the systemic barriers that hinder access to financial services by putting low-income people particularly the rural poor and women at the centre of its interventions. AFR supports the development and provision of financial services including savings, credit, insurance, payments, and remittances. Learn more at afr.rw.

Media Contact

For any enquiries or more information, write to musa.kacheche@consumercentrix.ch or reach out to Emile Ndayambaje, AFR Communications Manager, at emile@afr.rw.