Kagame probes BDF program

President Paul Kagame addressing participants at the 2013 Umushyikirano

President Paul Kagame addressing participants at the 2013 Umushyikirano

President Paul Kagame has said that the activities of the Business Development Fund (BDF) program must be made known to all Rwandans so that residents can access finance for their business and initiatives.

President Kagame made the remarks during the 11th National Dialogue Council, Umushyikirano, attended by senior government officials, youth representatives from around the country, Rwandans from the Diaspora, diplomats and the civil society.

He said that there is no reason why Rwandans should not access the funds if at all the money is there. “I don’t understand what the problem is. Is it that there is no money or the money is there and it’s just laying there idle?”

His response came after residents raised concerns over the BDF program saying that their projects have not been financed under the pretext of lack of funds and loan collateral. Kagame asked whether it was a problem of lack of funds or lack of information,

He noted that if it was the lack of funds, then more money should be requested but if it was lack of information on BDF, then the program should start educating the populace and making the communities aware of its activities, as a way of promoting development and self reliance.

BDF Ltd is a new company established to support SMEs in form of on and off farm Credit Guarantee, Lines of Credit, Matching Grants as well as Advisory Services. It helps individual clients, start up, small and medium sized companies, associations, cooperatives, MFIs and profit oriented NGOs to build value.

The government’s Business Development Fund (BDF) ensures 75 per cent of collateral is assured to banks when Small and Medium Sized Enterprises or local cooperatives apply for loans in banks.

Even if the $13.4-million BDF is dedicated to increasing business and employment opportunities for Rwandans by allowing them to access capital, the need for collateral that the fund seeks to eliminate remains since most poor still find it hard to get the remaining 25 per cent that is needed to have a complete collateral.

BDF, an independent company that was created in collaboration of the Government of Rwanda and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD).BDF is one of the implementing institutions of the National SME Development Policy and has been mandated to implement the “Access to Finance” objective.

Innocent Bulindi, the CEO of BDF says that there is an initiative of partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) whereby to manage seven Business Development Centers (BDCs) in districts of Rubavu, Nyabihu, Ngororero, Nyamasheke, Rusizi, Karongi and Rutsiro in the western province.

“These will serve as a pilot phase; the goal is to hand over to BDF all the 30 BDCS in the country within the context of decentralising our services, effective from 2014.”

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