Access Bank Rwanda on Friday, March 26, awarded three outstanding small and medium start-up businesses owned by women.
The competition was organized by the bank in partnership with ITC SheTrades Rwanda Project, and the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance in Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).
Awarded businesses are Avo Care Ltd that produces cooking and hair oil from avocado, Ishyo Foods Ltd that produces jam, and Champion Grocers Ltd which produces fresh juice.
The first winner was given Rwf3 million, the second winner Rwf2 million, and the third one Rwf1 million.
According to Nadine Rutabayiro, Head of Women Banking department at Access Bank (Rwanda) Plc, the competition sought to celebrate women doing business.
“We dedicated the month of March to celebrate women in business, and by doing so, we had to award the best projects with working capital to acknowledge their resilience despite facing several challenges,” she said.
She added that among criteria that were considered while selecting stand-up businesses include the perseverance shown by the business owners through continuing production despite Covid-19 effects, checking whether that given business promote Made in Rwanda initiative and also solve different challenges that society is facing.
According to Access Bank Rwanda, the competition attracted 72 contestants of which 50 businesses were selected, before choosing the three finalists.
Rutabayiro says that besides the financial awards given to three finalists, training will be provided to 50 business-owners who made it to the semi-finals.
“We will train all 50 first contestants to help their businesses grow, thanks to efforts of our partners,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Ephrosine Mugeni Niyidukunda, the first winner in the competition, said that the prize comes at the right time.
“Our sales had reduced because of Covid-19, and the Rwf3 million will help me to invest more and even put in place all requirements that will enable me to get a registration certificate from Rwanda Foods and Drugs Authority, and then in future be able to export my products,” she said.
Sharon Kanyana who owns Ishyo Foods Ltd that was ranked second also underscored that the money she received will boost her scale of production.
“We thank Access Bank Rwanda for organizing this competition. Personally, the prize comes at the right time when I had plans to start producing yogurts, and therefore will help me to implement the plan,” she said.
A stepping stone to already existing efforts
According to Jean-Claude Karayenzi, the Managing Director of Access Bank Rwanda, among the lender’s priority include empowering women.
“This competition was just an awareness of what we have in store for women. Access Bank Rwanda has designed a value proposition to respond to the needs of women-owned SMEs in Rwanda including access to finance,” he said.
He added: “Access Bank Rwanda’s objective is to become the bank of choice for women and the Women Initiative was established in 2015 to accomplish that objective.”