This post is part of a larger series highlighting the Feed the Future Nguriza Nshore project in Rwanda. Nguriza Nshore is applying systemic lenses and tactics to shift the orientation of the financial services market system. Nguriza Nshore is focusing on two major shifts in the financial services market system. The first is shifting the orientation of the banking and microfinance service providers toward the SME segment. This shift requires banks and micro-finance service providers to shift their operations and product offerings to accommodate the specific needs of SMEs and the SME segment. The second is shifting the overall balance of enterprise finance away from banks and microfinance service providers and toward private capital that can more effectively serve the growth capital needs of Rwandan entrepreneurs.
The Government of Rwanda (GoR), through the leadership of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), realized that in order to continue its economic growth and to grow even more inclusively, it is necessary to substantially improve the entrepreneurial and SME operating environment in the country. With the support of the Feed the Future Rwanda Nguriza Nshore project (Nguriza Nshore), MINICOM decided to undertake a participatory process for developing and gathering support for an ambitious EntrepreneurshipDevelopment Policy (EDP). Through this participatory process, MINICOM and Nguriza Nshore were able to both develop a comprehensive policy for catalyzing greater entrepreneurial activity, as well as generate a wide base of support for the policy. Nguriza Nshore continued to support MINICOM through the policy approval process at the national level. The comprehensive nature of the EDP presented MINICOM with a range of challenges related to building internal support across multiple Ministries. By working closely together, MINICOM and Nguriza Nshore managed the approval process by leveraging the wide base of support generated through the participatory development process.
For Nguriza Nshore, its effort to support MINICOM to develop a comprehensive entrepreneurrship policy included more than just the potential benefits of the improved policy; Nguriza Nshore was also keen on improving how policies were developed and improved over time. Taking a more systemic approach has been central to Nguriza Nshore’s success in supporting MINICOM. For example, by focusing on a participatory process of policy development, MINICOM and Nguriza Nshore were able to catalyze a substantial constituency for the policy. MINICOM and Nguriza Nshore traveled across 20 districts and interviewed 313 diverse stakeholders to better understand the achievements and challenges from the previous SME policy. Specifically, through the participatory process, they were able to prioritize challenges affecting startups and business growth in Rwanda and adapt the EDP based on constituent input. Throughout the policy drafting and consultation process, MINICOM and Nguriza Nshore were able to gain insights into the unique challenges of women as they start and grow their businesses. Through the process, of the 313 stakeholders consulted, 122 were women.
Nguriza Nshore has also supported MINICOM as the ministry thinks through the key components of implementing the policy, including how to anticipate and build in an adaptive capacity. Throughout the process, Nguriza Nshore witnessed a continued strong sense of ownership among stakeholders present during the EDP implementation plan adaptation workshop, where participants updated the implementation priorities to match new COVID-19 realities and align with GoR economic recovery activities. Additional stakeholders have also already begun aligning their activities with the EDP. Inkomoko approached MINICOM with a request to directly support the implementation of EDP by aligning Inkomoko’s $2.3 million SME Relief Fund within the EDP framework.
In April of 2020, a Cabinet meeting passed the EDP, and a formal launch event was held in November. All in all, the passage of the EDP by the Cabinet is a testament to its inclusive development process and alignment to GoR’s priorities. With this milestone, Nguriza Nshore will implement all future activities with the entrepreneurship ecosystem priorities, which will ultimately go beyond the life of the Activity. The EDP will be officially implemented by MINICOM in 2021. Nguriza Nshore will continue to partner with MINICOM and support the policy’s amplification across the country.
This post was authored by the Nguriza Nshore team.