The National Bank of Rwanda and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, in partnership with the Business Development Fund and Proxtera, have launched of the Rwanda Imbaraga SME Ecosystem (RISE) program.
This collaborative initiative aims to strengthen the ties between financial institutions and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in both Rwanda and Singapore.
The launch of RISE follows the signing of a joint Memorandum of Understanding between the National Bank of Rwanda, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Business Development Fund of Rwanda (BDF), and Proxtera Pte Ltd.
This collective effort is dedicated to supporting the development of the Rwanda Imbaraga SME Ecosystem.
With the support of the aforementioned institutions, RISE will serve as a comprehensive financial development program and a robust domestic-to-international digital infrastructure.
It seeks to uplift and empower SMEs in Rwanda by fostering closer connections between these enterprises and financial institutions in Singapore, Asia, and other regions.
In their capacity as Central Banks, the National Bank of Rwanda and the Monetary Authority of Singapore will provide strategic direction and invaluable support to facilitate this crucial structural development.
BDF and Proxtera will play key roles in operationalizing the RISE system and infrastructure, in collaboration with Rwandan financial institutions, government entities, and trusted data partners.
The RISE program has set forth the following key goals to facilitate the transformation of SMEs in Rwanda:
1. Enable SME transformation by providing access to financial literacy and digital services, thereby building stronger financial trust among SMEs, corporates, financial institutions, and government agencies within Rwanda.
2. Enhance the availability of broad-based financing and financial services for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Rwanda, with a focus on capacity building.
3. Create new and expanded trade opportunities within Rwanda, as well as between Rwanda and international markets, including Singapore.
John Rwangombwa, Governor, BNR, said, “We are glad for this great partnership with Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in leveraging technology to support our financial sector. The RISE project will solve data unavailability through collecting alternative data to create trusted credentials that financial institutions can rely on to lend to SMEs. This will eventually bridge the gap of SME financing and expose Rwandan SMEs to international markets, through the digital marketplace.”
Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS, said, “This is a major milestone in our Singapore-Rwanda friendship, and we look forward to this collaboration to drive enhanced financial services, stronger trusted credentials and greater business opportunities to the Rwanda SMEs and the Rwanda financial ecosystem.”
Mohanty added that having a financial digital infrastructure is key for a paradigm transformation into the dynamic global digital economy.
“RISE is intended to do just this and in due time, I expect to find exciting Rwandan products, successful SMEs and innovative Rwandan financial institutions present in Singapore and Asia.”
BDF already recognizes the strategic importance of the SME sector as a driving force behind economic growth, and within the context of addressing issues on SME access to finance, this partnership is pertinent and timely especially in the post covid-19 pandemic, as it introduces a new SME financing approach and access to markets.
Commenting on the partnership, Mr Saurav Bhattacharyya, Chief Executive Officer of Proxtera said, “Proxtera is proud to be working with National Bank of Rwanda, Business Development Fund and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to build and operationalise RISE.”
This partnership cements our commitment to uplifting SMEs as they embark on their cross- border trade journey.
SMEs begin their journey through the SME Financial Empowerment Programme (SFE), and are able to equip themselves with the necessary financial and digital literacy skills to thrive in today’s rapidly evolving business llandscape.
He added that, “We are excited to work with our partners to foster an ecosystem that supports SMEs and strengthens the economy.”