Rwandan Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Dr Diane Gashumba, has called for more funding to women entrepreneurs.
Gashumba said limited access to finance and information, coupled with lack of business management skills were some of the main challenges affecting growth of women-run businesses, pushing women into poverty and dependency. Increased access to funds would expand their opportunities for growth.
The minister added that funding, acquisition of skills and access to information could help build the capacity of business women, ensuring that they participate meaningfully in the economy.
She urged women to embrace new technologies, especially in promoting and running their enterprises, arguing that ICTs could facilitate growth and ease operations.
Gashumba was last week addressing 70 business women from Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge districts after a two-day training in business management and customer care conducted by Tigo Rwanda.
Central bank statistics show that only 23 per cent of the total loans to individuals went to women last year compared to 77 per cent given to men.
Speaking at the event, Françoise Uwumukiza, the president of the National Women Council, said training women in business management and other skills, like customer service, will help improve their businesses and make them sustainable and profitable. Uwumukiza added that women have a huge role to play in the country’s development, noting that with improved skills, women are able to attract more customers which increases their returns. She called for support to vulnerable women, saying this will help improve their livelihoods and household income.
In most parts of Africa, women contribute to household income. Their work varies depending on where they live and their class status. In rural Rwanda women produce food and/or cash crops, participate in small associations, and engage in small-scale commerce.
Experts say financial and business management skills are essential to ensure women run start-ups which are sustainable, adding that this will help create the next crop of female entrepreneurs.