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RDB, Entrepreneurs For Entrepreneurs Partner To Support And Invest In Rwandan Start-ups

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The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Belgium-based Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs (OVO), have signed a cooperation agreement to support OVO’s Sustainable Technology for Africa (SusTech4Africa) programme in Rwanda by providing access to debt and expert capital for Rwandan start-up businesses.

OVO’s SusTech4Africa programme in Rwanda offers a tailor-made six-month programme to support companies on their pathway to growth.

Each accepted company will be paired with a team of expert coaches in Belgium and Rwanda.

The coaches offer strategic guidance and technical assistance to companies through weekly or bi-weekly mentoring sessions.

Every year, 10-15 small enterprises will be accepted into the six-month programme and will receive hands-on coaching and business development support to develop sustainable and profitable business models with the clear aim to get access to affordable loans of up to 50,000 Euros.

Rwandan start-ups that are transforming their local communities through the use of sustainable technology and aligning with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals are invited to apply to join the yearly programme.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the Rwanda Development Board, Zephanie Niyonkuru said that Rwandan businesses have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

“Therefore, our partnership with OVO joins the growing list of the country’s economic recovery initiatives that re-enforce entrepreneurship skills and build capacities of Rwandan business owners. We look forward to having the entrepreneurs succeed in creating decent and productive jobs as well as increasing exports through the program.”

Björn Macauter, General Manager of OVO, said that in 2015, we’ve been active across Africa supporting early stage entrepreneurs doing innovative and impact work in their local communities. We’re excited to return to Rwanda for our SusTech4Africa programme.

“We’re bullish on Rwanda and that’s why we’re making a three-year commitment to working with and financing Rwandan companies contributing to the economic and social transformation of Rwanda. We are very excited for this partnership with RDB. They are doing amazing work in Rwanda, so it is an honour and a pleasure for us to combine forces with RDB. Together we can have a great impact on Rwandan entrepreneurship.”

The 2021 SusTech4Africa programme will take place in June. All companies that successfully complete the programme will join the OVO Rwanda Business Club and will receive unique support and discounts on office space, accounting and legal services.

To learn more about OVO and its SusTech4Africa programme, please visit www.ovo.be. The next 2-month call for companies will open on 1 March in 2022 and 2023.

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Business

Inkomoko Donates 500 Smartphones To Refugees For World Refugee Day Through #ConnectRwanda

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Timed with World Refugee Day, Inkomoko is fulfilling its #ConnectRwanda campaign pledge by donating 500 smartphones to entrepreneurs across Rwanda.

This weekend, as the world celebrates World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 20, Inkomoko is working with MTN Rwanda, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management, and UNHCR to distribute the majority of the 500 phones to refugee and host community entrepreneurs, increasing their access to government services, financial products, and overall digital connectivity for their small businesses.

Initiated by MTN Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the #ConnectRwanda campaign was launched in December 2019, with the objective of providing smartphones to unconnected households across Rwanda to leverage the digital economy.

Since then, private companies, government institutions and individuals have come together to connect all Rwandans through technology.

Inkomoko’s phone donation, as part of World Refugee Day, aligned with their larger strategy to digitize services and provide increased access to finance for refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

These pivots have emerged as Inkomoko adapted to helping entrepreneurs adjust to new ways of working during COVID-19.

Phone distribution will launch in the Gihembe Refugee Camp where Inkomoko has been working since 2016. 

“During COVID-19, movement restrictions limited how we could provide services in refugee communities. Like most businesses, it forced us to quickly develop digital offerings that would work for our clients. Because we were able to make expedient digital implementations and because 39% of our Inkomoko staff are refugees themselves, we were able to continuously serve our entrepreneurs despite movement restrictions,” says Olive Ashimwe, Inkomoko’s Regional Director of Refugee Affairs.

The 500 donated smartphones fortify Inkomoko’s track record of financial inclusion, as Inkomoko is also rolling out a new digital loan app that will increase access to business financing for refugee and host communities.

This mobile loan app for smartphones is available in Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili, and will help Inkomoko to diversify access points for financing across the country, a key request from entrepreneurs.

All of the phones donated by Inkomoko will come preloaded with their app.

Last year for World Refugee Day, Inkomoko partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to release US$2.6million in COVID-19 relief grants to more than 3,500 refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

One year later they have released data showing that as a result of their grants, businesses were able to generate more than US$10 million in new revenue and they employ more than 20,000 people throughout Rwanda. In addition, 98% of closed businesses have re-opened. 

“Inkomoko’s work with entrepreneurs has consistently shown that investing in refugee businesses is catalytic for economic development at-large. We are able to provide new growth opportunities for our clients in refugee communities by bringing new investments and digital solutions,” says Julienne Oyler, Inkomoko’s CEO.

Looking ahead, Inkomoko has pledged to support more refugee and host community entrepreneurs, including providing 25,000 refugee households with access to affordable capital in the coming years, all facilitated by more digital solutions.

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Business

5 Major Structural Reforms At RRA

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Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has been undergoing structural reforms for the past ten years. Key focus on the reforms is digitising service delivery.

Implementation of electronic solutions leveraging on evolving technology has been very critical in ensuring the improvement of taxpayer service delivery and re-engineering RRA’s internal processes in a bid to build a strong revenue administration.

The Commissioner General of RRA, Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali, spoke to Taarifa about the major reforms since 2010.

1. The electronic single window system in customs has been ranked among the best, worldwide, on matters to do with easy sharing of information among trade regulation stakeholders, faster clearance of traded goods, as well as improved transparency due to limited human interventions.

2. The Electronic Cargo Tracking System has significantly reduced the cost of doing business by eliminating the physical escort of cargo and the cost related to it. The number of days for importation from Mombasa to Kigali has reduced from 21 to 16, to a maximum of five (5) days today. The Electronic Cargo Tracking System has also contributed to efforts of fighting smuggling since it has eliminated the diversion of cargo.

3. The E-Tax system is a solution for electronic filling and electronic payment. Taxpayers can file their tax returns using their home/office computers/laptops regardless of their location. The system also accommodates other useful modules such as Audit and Refund Management, Debt Management that helps the tax administration in enforcement and tax arrears recovery, Motor vehicle management such as motor vehicle registration and ownership transfer, Tax Account and Registration/De-registration of taxpayers. The system has ushered in numerous benefits to the tax administration and to the taxpayers.

4. Electronic Billing Machine: Since the introduction of EBM in 2013, RRA witnessed an increase in VAT collections from Rwf110.5 billion in 2013 to Rwf450.7 billion in 2019 while VAT payables increased by 99.34 %. The system has also increased income tax collection and allowed the setup of controls to validate input and output provided that there was appropriate management of supply chain. Three years ago, RRA introduced the new improved version of the EBM which is more efficient and has eased tracking of transactions on the part of both RRA and taxpayers. The new internet based EBM which aimed at improving compliance and widening the tax base has addressed all the loopholes that existed in the older EBM.

5. Local Government Tax System has improved the management of Local Taxes declaration and payment. The system provide solutions from Registration of taxpayers, Declaration, Audit, enforcement and enables accurate reporting. For accurate and timely reporting on revenue Collection, the Tax Administration introduced SAGE X3.

All these reforms introduced in the last decade, Ruganintwali says, have significantly improved tax compliance, transparency in tax declaration and tax collection since taxpayers can pay precise taxes based on accurate income generated.

Technology in tax collection has ensured certainty in target setting and forecasting since it makes it easier to know what should be happening in the near future.

What are the innovations coming up soon?

He says new operating model currently under implementation intends to become a more data centric tax body that collects as much as possible in terms of revenue and also facilitates taxpayers systematically through electronic systems.

“We are designing new mechanisms leveraging on technology to develop solutions that will ensure high level of compliance among taxpayers through accurate declarations across all tax-heads. Among them, include my RRA project, a solution that will gather all taxpayers’ information in one place. Taxpayers could log into their accounts and have all the information they need to know with less efforts and time. Other projects include the enhancement of electronic Cargo tracking among others.

“Strengthening the institutional capacity (structural review and capacity building of workforce) will remain among our top priorities,” he notes.

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Business

Cimerwa Records Rwf30billion Worth Of Revenue

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Rwanda’s largest cement manufacturer CIMERWA Plc has reported a major growth in its revenue in the first quarter of 2021.

The company said on Friday, it fetched Rwf 30 billion worth of revenue indicating a 14% increase as compared to the same period last year.

According to John Bugunya, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO), the company was able to stage a stronger performance despite the devastating effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our position in the first half of the year paints an encouraging picture of what our financials will look like at the end of 2021. Despite the effects of the lockdown that went into effect during the first quarter of this year, we were able to record strong revenue and profit and maintain a healthy cash balance of Rwf 8.7 billion. This speaks volumes on our resilience in the face of difficulties and challenges,” said Bugunya.

Details also indicate that Cimerwa also recorded a Rwf 1.02 billion decrease in cost of sales which was buoyed by efficiencies in plant operations and prudent cost-saving measures.

Meanwhile, Albert Sigei – Cimerwa Plc CEO said the domestic market continues to show a good growth trajectory driven by infrastructure investments across the country while the export market also grew during the period.

“Amidst this wave of growth, our market position remains strong and steady and we are gearing up to make it even more robust,” he said.

Sigei further noted that the noticeable increase in company inventories is a deliberate and strategic move to ensure that it is ready and able to supply the market with cement while maintaining support for the government’s infrastructure development agenda as a proud ‘made in Rwanda’ company.

As part of measures aimed at preventing further spread of Covid-19, the company has vaccinated about 200 staff and adheres to Standard Operating Procedures.

“Our good results during this period demonstrates Cimerwa’s ability to ride the wave of challenges that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This however is a collaborative effort that starts from the exceptionally skilled pool of people who work for this company, a competent and devoted board of directors and our supportive stakeholders. All of this puts us in a position to keep delivering on the promise we made to our customers, our shareholders and the country at large,” Sigei said.

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