In a bid to ease access to credit for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), especially agricultural projects, Business Development Fund (BDF) disbursed over Rwf12 billion in guarantee funds as of August this year.
The fund, which was established last year, provides guarantee to financial institutions on loans applied for by SMEs which don’t have collaterals. The aim is to increase credit needed to boost the private sector to drive economic growth.
“These funds are helping many projects in SME sector and in agriculture to access loans, which has been difficult since they (SMEs) don’t have collaterals needed by banks and financial Institutions,” John Kagarama, Business Development Manager at BDF said yesterday.
Kagarama is optimistic that the increasing appetite for Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) for loans will boost rural financial access, which is likely to help reduce poverty levels and unemployment through increased incomes for farmers.
“SACCOs are good drivers of financial inclusion since many rural people bank with them,” Kagarama said.
BDF was set up by Government to provide capacities, skills and support to SMEs mostly in their infant stages, which don’t have requirements needed by financial institutions to access credit.
Meanwhile, BDF has also given out Laptops, desk top computers and ad banking software to help Micro finance institutions to shift from manual to electronic banking as one way of easing banking.
“One of our mandates is to support MFIs development especially in ICT support and upgrade of software, and we expect this is going to help them in service delivery, since we are in a world of competition,” Kagarama said.
He added that under the MFI support program that started in September last year, the Fund has trained MFIs in credit management, risk management as well as credit appraisal, the key challenges to the industry.
“We have been conducting our banking practices manually, which requires employment of more staff yet we don’t have money to pay them,” Henry Mugasa, Vice president of KOZIBI SACCO in Rwamagana after he received some equipments from BDF.
He added that lack of technology has been holding back expansion of rural based SACCOs limiting their capacity to serve the rural sector currently having over 80 per cent unbanked population.
By Dias Nyesiga, The New Times