Online Business Bootcamp

Rwandan Online Business Bootcamp Launched

Rwandan Online Business Bootcamp Launched

By Alejandra Ríos and Jessica Massie

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

To support entrepreneurs in these challenging and unprecedented times, Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) has partnered with the Rwanda Private Sector Federation and ConsumerCentriX on the SME Response Clinic. This digital platform provides entrepreneurs in Rwanda with information on financial management and industry insights to improve their response to this crisis.

However, information alone is not enough. As a result of this conviction, the SME Response Clinic is promoting a series of webinars and virtual programs through a partnership with the African Management Institute (AMI), to help entrepreneurs to adjust to financial uncertainty by deepening their skills and business acumen.

On Tuesday, May 12th, small businesses in Rwanda across sectors and with different business sizes joined the first FREE “Business Survival Bootcamp”  facilitated by the African Management Institute (AMI).

Jean Bosco Iyacu of Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR), opened the webinar with a message of solidarity for the SME Response Clinic and SMEs in Rwanda.

The webinar takes businesses through important tools for planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include:

  • Scenario planning for your business – how do you deal with issues regarding customers, suppliers, infrastructure, staff and cash flow? How will these be affected if I close or have slow business for two weeks? What if it is two months?
  • Organizational risk assessments – looking at the different dimensions of business, the risks they face, and how to mitigate them. What do you do if you can’t get the goods you need for your store, or supply your customers?
  • Impact on cash flow – what to do if and when your cash flow is affected by an unexpected closure or low period.

All participants are given access to tools, such as cash flow planning spreadsheets, from AMI to use to help in their own businesses. These resources are free and designed specifically to navigate the issues in the COVID-19 pandemic, and include additional courses.

These tools and conversations are important given that the pandemic is likely to continue to affect SMEs in Rwanda – and around the world – for an unknown period of time. According to Diederik Wokke of AMI, many small businesses originally thought they would be affected for just the first two weeks of the lockdown. Now that the situation is stabilizing but slowly, businesses still need to build these skills and plan for a more uncertain future.

Conversation during the training highlighted some of the questions that SMEs have right now. For example, supplier negotiation is becoming more difficult now that businesses are able to open little by little. A shop renting a space may have had more flexibility in terms of payment during the lockdown, but this is changing as the country opens.

Finally, there are still many questions around payments and transferring to contactless mechanisms as much as possible. Many businesses are switching to digital payments and are still in the learning phase.

But with planning, management, and resources like those available from the SME Response Clinic, small businesses will be more likely to survive this pandemic.

Find out more about the upcoming sessions at “Expanding My Skills” on the SME Response Clinic website and on Facebook.

About the Authors

Alejandra Rios is an expert in inclusive finance with a focus on small-and-medium (SME) enterprises, advising leading commercial banks and microfinance institutions in emerging markets for the past twenty years. Her portfolio in MSME finance consultancy covers change management, housing finance, rural finance, institution-building, strategic planning, and credit management.   She is a Partner at ConsumerCentriX.

Jessica Massie is a consultant in financial capability and microfinance based in Kigali, Rwanda. She has lived and worked in a variety of African countries for almost 20 years, and specializes in curriculum development, training, research and writing, with a focus on skill-building and behavior change. She is working with the ConsumerCentriX team on the SME Response Clinic in Rwanda.

The Decisions Behind Aadhaar's Success Story


The Decisions Behind Aadhaar's Success Story with Tanuj Bhojwani

The decisions behind Aadhaar’s success story revolves around big and small strategies. According to Findex data from 2014, only 53 percent of adult Indians had bank accounts. By 2017, that number had jumped to 80 percent and traditionally excluded demographics shared in these gains. Women saw a 30 percent increase in account ownership, and the poorest households saw a 40 percent increase. The remarkable addition of 300 million accounts in just a few years can be largely contributed to the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana scheme which mandates that every household has at least one bank account and the biometric ID Aadhaar which grants residents a unique identification number that can be used to access financial services. First available in 2010, Aadhaar is now used by 1.2 billion Indians.

However, beyond increasing the number of bank accounts, Aadhaar has become an integral component of several flagship government programs including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the public distribution system (PDS), two of India’s largest welfare programs. The biometric authentication helps ensure that the gains are delivered to actual beneficiaries, instead of fake or duplicates, thereby cutting food shortages. Currently, around 90 percent of all welfare recipients receive their government benefits through Aadhaar.

In this video, Tanuj Bhojwani, a representative for the iSpirit Foundation, shares his thoughts on the big and small decisions that made Aadhaar a success and why the user-experience for welfare beneficiaries has improved through the adoption of the biometric ID. Bhojwani recently participated in the “Identifying Practical Solutions to Accelerating Digital Financial Services for Inclusive Economies” conference where he shared the key lessons learned from India’s successful implementation of Aadhaar to key regulators from Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria. To learn more about the conference click here

Estonia’s digital revolution Podcast with Kalle Palling

Estonia’s Digital Society with Kalle Palling


e-Estonia: the Development of Estonia’s Digital Society with Kalle Palling

As governments around the world wrestle with challenges from technology, including data collection and cyber threats, Estonia might offer a blueprint for how to build a digital society. Taxes are completed online in under 5 minutes,  47 percent of citizens use internet voting, and 99 percent of Estonia’s public services are available on the web 24 hours a day. This digital integration of almost all of the government services is especially remarkable, considering the financial state of the country nearly 30 years ago.

Estonia was a relatively poor country when it regained independence in 1991 after the Soviet Union collapsed. To modernize the economy, it embarked on a series of fast-track reforms and adopted a digital approach from the start. Today, Estonia is home to more private companies valued at more than $1 billion, per capita than any other small country in the world.

In this video, Kalle Palle, MP of Parliament (Reform), shares his thoughts on Estonia’s digital revolution and the consistent need for government transparency and accountability when it comes to cyber security.

Palle recently participated in the “Identifying Practical Solutions to Accelerating Digital Financial Services for Inclusive Economies” conference at the Bellagio Center in Italy where he shared the key lessons learned from Estonia’s successful implementation of the digital ID to key regulators from Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria.To find out more about the conference click here.

Women leaders with Aishah Ahmad

Increasing the pipeline of women leaders with Aishah Ahmad


Increasing the pipeline of women leaders with Aishah Ahmad

According to Oliver Wyman, financial services will not reach even 30% female Executive Committee representation globally until 2048 at current rates of growth.  In this short interview, Aishah Ahmad, a Deputy Governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria, discusses how financial institutions can increase the pipeline of women leaders by making sure top talent remains.

Ahmad recently participated in the “Identifying Practical Solutions to Accelerating Digital Financial Services for Inclusive Economies” conference at the Bellagio Center in Italy.  To find out more about the conference click here.