Access to finance, a hurdle that has for long been a major limitation to success of women entrepreneurs, could soon be history, thanks to the establishment of an all-women investment fund, ‘Rugori Fund’.
The new investment instrument, spearheaded by New Faces New Voices (NFNV) Rwanda Ltd, will be owned by women, created for women seeking to increase Rwandan women’s access to finance through existing financial services.
According to the management, Rugori Fund would have two segments, a private equity and a short term investment fund. In future, the Fund will have a technical assistance arm, which will increase chances of success and sustainability of women financed businesses and also provide grant management services for not-for-profit organisations targeting disadvantaged women.
According to Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the chairperson of New Faces New Voices, the Fund will facilitate raising a total committed capital of some $16-20 million, of which 25 per cent would come from its members, 25 per cent from the Government, with development finance institutions injecting in the balance.
“This won’t be just a xfund, it will encompass several other elements that can make a Rwandan woman thrive in different spheres of their day-to-day life. Rugori Fund will not give out finances to women startups but we will make sure that we strengthen the skills and capacity that women entrepreneurs, consumers and investors need to increase their financial inclusion,” Nsanzabaganwa said.
She was speaking at New Faces New Voices general assembly in Kigali last week. The meeting also uncovered the market survey findings and business plan reports regarding the establishment of Rugori Fund.
“The survey shows that we will need to follow our members through from the time they have applied for the investment fund, during implementation process and watch them grow. We are sure that once a women is economically empowered, the family is equally empowered, subsequently the nation,” she added.
Through Rugori Fund, vision-bearers oversee growth in the number, and visibility, of Rwandan women in leadership and decision-making positions in the financial sector.
Jacky Mugwaneza, chairperson of Rwanda Bankers Association, while presenting the resolutions from the general meeting, said Rugori Fund will give out loans to women investors with an annual interest of 12 per cent.
“This is a good interest rate really. It’s not the best but it is better than what is on the market. We can always revise this interest rate upward or downwards depending on feedback we will be getting once we start,” Mugwaneza said.
Over the last few months, a number of steps have been taken in the planning phase, which will end with drafting a business plan for the Fund.
According to the plan, the Fund has started with membership fee at Rwf2,000, which will be paid once. Nsanzabagwana said each member needs to buy a minimum of five shares, with each share selling at Rwf1000.
“We want to invest in the capital market, which will generate quarterly income that would be used to invest in the long term investment pool which we called the Private debt and equity fund. This is one of so many solutions to closing the gap in access to finance,” she said.
Hundreds of women have already started buying shares in the short term investment fund from which they expect to generate about $20 million to invest into the capital market by January 2018.
Clementine Bora, the secretary of Turibamwe Saving Group based in Rubavu, said the Fund was long overdue.
“You have always heard challenges that women investors have faced regarding access to finance. Rugori Fund is really timely and I am so certain that most of my group members will pay their allegiance to this fund since we wanted to form a cooperative that deals in various business ventures,” Bora said.