Supporting Smaller Businesses in Rwanda

IFC has stepped up its support for smaller businesses in Rwanda with the launch of an online training program and a business solutions center that will help the country’s entrepreneurs develop new skills and build stronger businesses.

Businessmen and women in Rwanda can now benefit from the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Toolkit, an online, interactive teaching program that features the latest communications technologies.

Business Edge, a complimentary product, offers guidance in a range of topics, including marketing, accounting, and productivity.

The Maxinet Center for Business Solutions, the first of its kind in Rwanda, will offer a complete package of business incubation facilities, access to business information and will help smaller businesses access finance. Maxinet Group Ltd is an international brokerage company that helps address various business management and logistical needs.

Dorothy Berry, IFC Vice President, said at the launch of these programs in Rwanda, “We are pleased to bring Business Edge and the SME Toolkit to the Rwandan market, which, along with the business solutions center, will support the growth of smaller businesses in the country. Supporting smaller businesses is a major focus of IFC’s work in Africa and a stronger small business sector in Rwanda will help create employment and support growth in the country.”

The SME Toolkit
In Sub-Saharan Africa the SME Toolkit network covers:
Benin, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa Zambia.

The sites enable users to search and browse content, list their businesses, and create Web pages in a searchable business directory. Users are also able to network by participating in multilingual community forums on key business management topics. The SME Toolkit content can also be distributed on CD.

In 2006, IFC partnered with IBM to strengthen and expand the Toolkit’s capabilities. To date, IBM has invested more than $3 million to help develop the product on an open-source platform, offering innovative and collaborative features

The SME Toolkit is available through 31 Web sites and in over 17 languages in the developing world.

In many of these markets, there are no other comparable online support resources for small businesses in the local language. The Toolkit receives over 4 million unique visits per year.

The online training tools and business center were launched by IFC’s Rwanda Entrepreneurship Development Program (REDP), a two-year, $2.4 million aimed to support the growth of smaller businesses in Rwanda with training and tools to bridge entrepreneurship development skills gaps.

REDP, which is supported by Japan, Netherlands, and Wallonia (Belgium), is also working to develop a private market for smaller business training services.

Solange Uwingabiye, the managing director of Top One Conduct, a leading distributor for Rwandatel, has already benefitted from IFC’s support. She said: “IFC’s SME Toolkit has revolutionized my business practices...I was able to use the knowledge I acquired in the training to develop, interpret and review my own business plan. I can also now manage and control my work to reach my goals.”

For more information contact:
Sabrina Hadjadj Aoul
Communications Officer
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: +27 11 731 3175
Development Impact



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