World Bank commits millions to boost Rwanda, DRC trade

World Bank commits millions to boost Rwanda, DRC trade

Traders from the Great Lakes Region whose livelihoods depend on cross-border trade will benefit from greater food security, more jobs, and an overall increase in welfare as a result of the US$79 million International Development (IDA) grant and credit approved by the World Bank.

The Trade Facilitation Project intended to benefit the Great Lakes region is designed to reduce the costs faced by traders, the majority of whom are small-scale and women traders, in the surrounding borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

“Regional approaches to trade facilitation are critical to leverage national efforts,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Group Vice President for the Africa Region.

“The three Great Lakes countries included in this project share similar challenges that must be tackled through collective action, and borders are the solution provided they are safe and enable traders to do business in a conducive environment.”

For many communities in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, key markets are situated across the border and informal cross-border trade plays a major role in linking small producers to markets.

“We are pleased that our two countries have been trading with one another for a long time, which can help forge peace, stability, and security in the Great Lakes Region,” said Francois Kanimba, the Minister of Trade for Rwanda in a communiqué.

Farmers decry reluctance by banks to offer loans

Farmers decry reluctance by banks to offer loans 

Farmers in Musanze district have decried the reluctance by banks to offer them loans to boost agriculture productivity.

The farmers were speaking during a three day fair organised by Musanze district in partnership with Rwanda agricultural board.

The fair, which was concluded on Tuesday, aimed at stimulating access to finance while promoting the seed value chain in the district.

Farmers and representatives of seed companies said that while they were committed to boosting quality and quantity of agro-produce, they still lacked financial means and banks do not facilitate them to access loans like other businesses.

The farmers also pointed out that the fact that insurance companies neglect the agriculture sector hampers its development as banks consider agriculture as risky and are reluctant to offer loans.

Farmers decry reluctance by banks to offer loans

Acknowledging that some banks are reluctant to provide farm loans, Esperance Mukangwije, the coordinator of Agri -Pro Focus project said efforts would be made to nudge lenders to provide credit to farmers


Investors pump U$3m to boost honey production


Investors pump U$3m to boost honey production

The country’s honey sector is set to see its production increase after investors showed interest to pump in U$3 million.

The money according to Esther Su of the Apiary Ltd, a Singaporean company that has picked interest in Rwanda’s sector will help increase capacity of bee farmers as well as provide modern equipment.

With this Su says will streamline the value chain for honey and also boost quality that would meet international standards thus contribute to country’s export earnings.

“We would enable producers to upgrade their knowledge and provide them with modern equipment in a bid to increase productivity,’ she says adding that in turn the company will buy the produced honey.

Despite the increasing prices of honey both on local and international market, the honey sector has  been struggling to keep stance as most producers still use subsistence methods that affect the quality of honey produced.

Accordingly, the country’s honey production capacity stands at 4000 metric tons of honey by December 2014 with a target of 8000 metric tons by 2017/18, implying that efforts to bolster production are needed.

“We really need to work on supply side,” pointed out State Minister Nsanganira, urging beekeepers to take the advantage and build long-term relationships with investors to ensure enough supply,” said Tony Nsanganira, State Minister for Agriculture.

The minister is optimistic that increasing farmer’s knowledge and of modern hives will boost production  to meet the increasing  demand after the country was certified in June last year to access Singaporean market as well as Europe.

On the other side, the country boosts of 80,000 honey producers owning more than 90,000 hives of which 70% are traditional hives.

Rwanda’s Expo 2015 created more business opportunities-Kanimba

MTN Rwanda emerged the overall best exhibitor at the 2015 international trade

MTN Rwanda emerged the overall best exhibitor at the 2015 international trade

The increase in the number local and exhibitors at the 2015 Rwanda Trade expo will set a precedent for growth of the Rwandan economy, especially in the private sector, according to Francois Kanimba, Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry.

While closing the 18th trade expo edition at Gikondo this August 12, 2015 Kanimba said that the increase from 307 participants in 2014 to 408 this year presents learning opportunities for local investors and from the synergies more Rwandans will learn how to do business from others.

“I have personally never received as much feedback from various exhibitors and participants as I have seen this year. This is a sign that Rwandans are gaining from the expo and are set to translate this into business opportunities” Kanimba said.

The Private Sector Federation (PSF) chairman Benjamin Gasamagera said the high turn-up made the exhibition one of the most attended in the East African region and thus calling for a need to expand.

He highlighted that this year’s expo saw a 7.66 percent growth in number of exhibitors, with 18,000 visitors during week days, and between 22-23, 000 visitors on weekends and over 1200 youth employed on temporary basis.

“We conducted an exhibitor’s satisfactory survey and found that most of the exhibitors’ expectations in sales were satisfactory, and 33 percent of the foreign exhibitors willing to open business locally” Gasamagera said.

MTN Rwanda emerged the overall best exhibitor at the 2015 international trade fair while Kenya was recognized as the best foreign exhibitor, with Pakistan and Egypt in second and third place, respectively.


Funds mismanagement dogging cooperatives

Structures in Gakinjiro that belong to different cooperatives

Structures in Gakinjiro that belong to different cooperatives

With much optimism for their ability to help people come together and  get  out of poverty, the  cooperatives  are still  facing a  tragedy that  is likely  to  threaten  their  performance and existence.

Most cooperatives are going through rough waters in terms of funds management which has resulted into members losing their hard earned money which in turn affects their incomes thus quit them.

Depending on their nature, cooperatives are governed by the boards that are mounted by people who   have no or little experience in management of public assets as well as finance controls which makes   them (cooperative) register loses.

“Like any other entity which involves money, there is need for at least experienced people to help members in management t issues, but of course it is still challenge,” said Jessica Masse, an expert in microfinance.

If not addressed, experts say that the cooperatives will still face the challenges of funds management which will affect their operations as well as performance.

President Paul Kagame while on official visit to Gakinjiro cooperatives that deal in carpentry and timber selling in Gisozi, Kigali on Wednesday stressed the need for Rwanda cooperative Agency to increase its efforts to help cooperatives in terms of technical support.

The cooperatives that are five in number are part of successful cooperatives that have seen their members striving hard to get out of poverty and set up their own businesses, a success story that has pointed out the need for cooperatives growth.

But Rwanda Cooperative Agency, the government agency that is charged with the development of the cooperatives in the country says it is looking at ways to help the cooperatives address the funds mismanagement.

“It is true that cooperative are facing the challenge of funds management,” says Damien Mugabo, director general of Rwanda cooperative agency.

But, he says “we have started intervening by helping these cooperatives to set up financial systems as well as carry out audit report to help members understand the financial status of their cooperatives.”

Moreover, efforts  to help Savings and credit cooperatives which are into the lending savings business  to have financial management mainly in loan disbursement  as well as automating their operations has yield results.


Loving customers is key to business growth- experts

Good customer care is a pre-requisite for business growth

Good customer care is a pre-requisite for business growth

Experts say that for business growth to be realized, there is need to enhance customer services that will provide satisfaction to clients at all levels of the organization.

This comes at time a new report by Walker report titled customers 2020 which highlighted that customer services is likely to be the leading aspect in business by 2020.

“If the customer is not the key focus in all activities, whether it is improvements in delivery times or query resolution processes, efforts are wasted,” said Fatima  Sullivan, Vice President of Customer Services for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.

He also noted that loving the customer’ explores the principles of creating successful relationships which secure customers’ hearts, minds and wallets.

The report indicates that customers impact to business continue to grow to become the key determinant in business growth. Sullivan says business need to respect the trend.

“Customers know what they want, and how they want it. You just need to listen to them,” she added.

She adds,“The voice of the customer is therefore an important element to consider when planning your strategies. Customers want to engage with companies who can not only provide a service, but are able to tailor-make solutions and respond quickly to changing demands”.

“Now it is either the business owner to understand and listen to the needs of their customers or lose the business to others,” he added

Moreover, Opar saysthat inmost businesses, thereis lack of a strong and coherent customer relations system, which therefore makes the managers miss important ideas that would shape their service delivery.

In a bid to shape its tainted image in as far as customer care is concerned, the government initiated the customer care campaign dubbed Nayombi( with tow hands) which focused as service providers to learn how to provide care to their clients.

Cooperatives looked at to bolster equality 

 Francois Kanimba, Minister of Trade and Industry

Francois Kanimba, Minister of Trade and Industry

There is optimism that cooperatives are the best engine to drive equality among Rwandans and thus push for improved livelihoods.

Francois Kanimba, minister of trade and industry says that cooperatives are key in ensuring that equality among Rwandans where the gap between those who have and those who don’t have is closed.

“Today, I would like to remind Rwandans that working together in cooperatives is the best way of promoting national growth,” he said.

Damien Mugabo, director general at Rwanda Cooperative Agency-RCA says that cooperatives play a key role in transforming people’s lives, something that is vital in boosting the country’s economy.

“We have seen people’s lives changing for better when they join cooperatives,” said Mugabo adding that cooperatives have the power to help communities to develop thus achieve economic development.

The cooperatives are part of the government initiatives to help people mainly the rural folks to   lift themselves out of poverty, access credit and share knowledge mainly in farming and business.

Mugabo says that through cooperatives financial institutions have been able to change credit to   members while on the other hand the cooperatives have helped to streamline production within the agriculture sector.

For example,  recently the ministry of trade in a bid to curb price fluctuation within the value chain of different  commodities, used cooperatives to ensure that famers have control over the value chain in price determination.

“This is why we are encouraging those who haven to yet joined to join,” Mugabo stressed as the country marked the international day of cooperatives that ran with the theme ‘choose cooperatives, choose equality’.

Nevertheless, most people are uncertain to join cooperatives saying that cooperatives leaders are untrustworthy which makes members lose their money.

But earlier, Rwanda cooperative agency moved in to help cooperatives have managerial skills, organization planning as well as equipping some of these cooperatives which are profit oriented with technology such as computers.

Meet Nsengimana, the creative phone charger in Nyaruguru

Meet Paul. Claude Nsengimana, 24 is a tall black man a phone charger smartphone charger who has made

It sounds like an odd job but charging peoples phones is a source of income and can lead one to sustainable development.

This is a true with Claude Nsengimana, 24, a resident of Kabere centre in Kabere cell, Nyabimata sector of Nyaruguru district who said he earns Rwf15000 a month from charging phones.

Nsengimana combines charging phones with showing films on his small flat screen TV which have led to his social development.

“After dropping out of school, I decided to buy a solar panel and be creative with it. That is how I started charging phones and showing films in Kabere Centre,” he explained.

Nsengimana added that an idea struck him after realizing there was no electricity in Kabere yet cell phone owners could move long distances to charge their phones.

“I thought that in a place without electricity, one can make money if solar system is used,” he said.

Nsengimana asserted that charging phones and showing films have improved his life, saying he is capable of providing for his basic needs.

“I plan to build a house. I will not get a bank loan because my job is enough to support the project,” revealed Nsengimana.

One of his customers, Pierre Nzirasanaho said that Nsengimana saved them from walking long distances to access electricity.

“He is of great help to us because we used to walk to Rweru for 40 minutes to charge. But now you come with Rwf100 and go back home with a fully charged phone,” said Nzirasanaho.

Apart from showing them films for entertainment purposes, Nsengimana allows residents to watch news on his TV set.

Logistics infrastructure key in boosting economic growth


Building a robust and strong logistics infrastructure will continue to facilitate Rwanda’s economic growth, Experts have revealed.

Charles Brewer, managing director of DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa believes that infrastructure development will attract big investors while reducing cost of doing business thus igniting economic growth.

“Government and the private sector therefore need to work together to create a sustainable and inclusive environment, and work on solutions to make it easier to conduct business and for the business environment to flourish,” he noted

Also, tackling the infrastructure through regional trade agreements for example, the East African community, Brewer says will help remove bottlenecks to trade and thus boost growth significantly.

“Africa needs to remove the obstacles which hinder the ease of doing business and continually investigate new trade agreements in the region,” the expert advised.

Moreover,  to harness this; the government has taken keen interest in developing the logistics sector, one of the efforts  that projects optimism for the country who  growth now stands In the first five months of 2015.

To facilitate logistics sector, François Kanimba Minister of Trade and industry says the government has embarked on key infrastructure projects that are likely to boost investments and ease trade within the country.

He also noted that development of the dry port, logistics hubs at ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, bonded warehouses on borders as well as regional trade zone to facilitate trade and reduce costs.

“We are confident that these (facilities) will reduce operational costs as well facilitating a quick turn-around,” the Minister earlier said.

Also, the faster growth of technology is paving a way for strong logistics and ease of trade, which experts believe is a another major factor Africa mainly Rwanda should look at seriously.

The technology sector is a highly dynamic industry and the pace of change is rapid,” said Rob Siegers, President, Global Technology Sector, DHL adding that   the new trends in technology such as the Internet of Things, big data, cloud computing and others are changing  doing business.

He adds, “While growth is slowing in some of the traditional markets, emerging nations are gaining importance for technology companies, and Africa is of particular interest to many of our customers.”

Microfinance sector’s bad loans reach 7.7 percent


Non-performing loans have continued an upward trend with 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015 up from 6.8 percent in December 2014 despite the sector’s projection of a positive outlook.

According to the Central Bank,  Microfinance sector that include microfinance institutions and Savings and Credit cooperative-SACCOs saw its non-performing loans which are attributed to poor loaning systems continued to grow.

“Although it is not alarmingly high, the Central Bank target to reduce this to rate below 5 percent,” said John Rwangombwa, Governor of the Central Bank.

The recent survey by Restrad Consultancy Ltd indicates that the sector is yet to recover over Rwf 10 billion in bad loans which according to the survey accounts for 7.6 percent of the Rwf 150 billion in savings.

The increase in bad loans is attributed to lack of skills in loan management and assessment as well as management   of the sector which lacks professionals to carry out day to day running of the institutions.

Peter Rwema, executive secretary of association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda-AMIR says that the said bad loans accrue from small loans and credit extended to groups for health insurance, which he said will require Institutions to increase loan recovery.

“We are requesting microfinance institutions to put more effort to recover these loans,” hesaid adding that such   loans may affect the profit margins of the sector.

Earlier this year, the association conducted a survey to assert in the cause of increasing bad loans that have been identified as a threat to the sector, looked at to boost rural financial inclusion, and the survey called for capacity building of Institutions management mainly loan officers.

But there is optimism as central bank says the sector’s liquidity is still positive with its solvency ratio (the ratio of capital to total risk weighted assets stood at 33.4 percent by March 2015.

Whilst the sector’s return on Assets-ROA stood at 0.2 percent by March 2015 from 0.1 percent in the same period under review and Return on Equity-ROE stood at 0.6 percent from 0.4 percent in March 2014.

The Central Bank says it will continue to improve its monitoring approach of both external and internal threats to the system’s stability and subsequently take proactive measures where necessary.


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