Within its mandate of promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) development through the provision of financial services to enhance the lending mechanism of financial institutions, Business Development Fund (BDF) funded a total of 3,009 businesses in 2019, according to recent statistics from the institution.
BDF is also one of the implementing institutions of the National Employment Program (NEP), mandated to implement the ‘Access to Finance’ objective.
Cumulatively, BDF has signed participation agreement with 511 financial institutions. In 2019, through different products, BDF spent Rwf 14,925,237,974 on 3,009 projects with a growth of 44% accumulating to 29,564 since 2011. The institution attributed the development to; aggressive awareness activities including the Sector Awareness Initiative as well as Inteko z’Abaturage (Citizens’ Forums whereby BDF visited 281 among 416 sectors in the country, an average of 68%).
BDF also maintained countrywide campaigns and actively participated in radio talk shows and responded to different media and public invitations. Different BDF beneficiaries testify that BDF has played a significant role in their business growth which attracted a big number of clients as a result.
A total of 4,940 projects attracting an investment of Rwf 14.4 billion are expected to be supported in 2020 up from 3,009 of 2019.
Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday 4th February 2020, BDF Chief Executive Officer, Innocent Bulindi reiterated commitment to maintain the same spirit and achieve more in 2020 with increased awareness campaigns.
According to BDF management the year 2019, ended on a good note. Throughout the year, BDF continued to receive applications for the different products and facilities offered, increasing numbers of people seeking support which is a testament that members of the public are embracing the interventions.
A new facility dubbed Project for Rural Income Through Exports (PRICE) that was added to the product line in partnership with National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) and participating financial institutions to provide a grant for projects in horticulture for rural support. BDF says, the uptake of the program being in the second phase was high and applauded banks, SACCOs and Micro Financial Institutions (MFIs) that participated in the program.
Currently, Rwanda’s unemployment rate stands at 13.2% and the Government has targeted to create 200,000 jobs every year and 1.5million off- farm jobs in its seven-year program.
Since 2011, BDF has so far received Rwf 41 billion from the Government which has led to the creation of 200,000 jobs through more than 40,000 supported projects among which more than 15,000 are youth-led while more than 8,000 are women.
The fund targets to foster the creation of at least 23,000 jobs per annum, averagely, 6 jobs per small business.
According to BDF Chief Executive Officer, Innocent Bulindi, more efforts are to be expended to mobilize the youth as the large part of targeted beneficiaries who should actively seek support from financial institutions partnering with BDF as the right pathway to get their projects into motion.
“A large number of youth are not fully aware of processes taken for one to benefit from BDF support but they should seek support from branches countrywide to get assistance, adopt the right mindsets, and pitching bankable projects. We work with all SACCOs and signed agreements with 503 financial institutions. We also collaborate with so many other institutions. This serves as a channel giving information on BDF services,” he said.
BDF provides 75% loan guarantee for viable projects approved by banks.
BDF is an independent company that was created in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD). It is one of the institutions of the National SME Development Policy mandated to implement ‘access to finance’ initiative.
Apart from supporting SMEs through credit guarantees, grants, Sacco refinancing, quasi equity and leasing, BDF also offers advisory services concerning investment, capacity building initiatives and micro finance development.
It has branches in every district around the country equipped to provide business related IT services.