Rwanda: ‘New Face, New Voices’ To Invest Rwf16bn In Women Fund

By Nasra Bishumba

‘New Faces, New Voices’ is finalising plans for a women investment fund expected to invest $20 million (about Rwf16bn) to support women who have been facing huddles in their pursuit to access finances.

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Launched in Rwanda in June, last year, New Faces, New Voices is a Pan-African advocacy group that focuses on expanding the role and influence of women in the financial sector.

The Chairperson of New Faces, New Voices in Rwanda, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, yesterday, told officials from various financial institutions that the Women Investment Fund would support women who are interested in investment.

“There are various problems that women experience as they try to access finance; we will look at how this fund can help to resolve such. We will also be looking at how the fund can be financially profitable because we will be investing people’s money. It should be a way for women to invest and make profits but also a solution to other issues she may have,” Nsanzabaganwa, who is also the vice governor of the National Bank of Rwanda, said.

She said the money will be sourced from the shares bought from the company and a quarter of this money, which is about Rwf4 billion, will be sourced from women.

‘Women struggle to get funding

Nsanzabaganwa said the rest of the fund will be sourced from institutions that are used to investing in such funds, from individuals that support investment ventures, government and other stakeholders.

“We are currently 1000 members but we started out when we were only 18. Since March, women started buying shares and, so far, the shares bought are worth about Rwf80 million and we encourage many more to register. A share goes for Rwf1,000, but you can buy based on your financial ability,” Nsanzabaganwa said.

At the end of the briefing session, Equity Bank’s head of marketing and communication, Athanasie Niragira, acknowledged that women face several challenges when seeking financial services.

“Most of these women start businesses but they lack the information and training that is required and this makes it difficult for them to come up with business plans. There is also an issue of lack of collateral that all banks require before they issue a loan to the applicant. These are the biggest challenges so far,” Niragira said.

Comparing access to finance and information gaps, Niragira said there is still a big difference because men were more, adding that though they receive fewer women, the numbers are improving.

A study done by FinScope in 2008 indicated that only 21 per cent of Rwandans were financially included in a formal way. Another study by the same company, done in 2012, showed that the percentage had doubled to 42 per cent.

Source: allafrica.com

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