Rwanda's Entrepreneurs Get $76M Boost

Last spring, PDE profiled Rwanda and its "rush to recovery" thanks in part to smart policies and engagement from the public sector that helped the country's entrepreneurs start and scale new firms. President Paul Kagame has been widely credited for putting entrepreneurship at the center of national economic policy for the past decade -- and now the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) is lending Rwanda $76 million to support the government's policy reforms aimed at promoting inclusive growth and accelerating poverty reduction.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the primary focus of the new funding from AfDB is the country's Skills, Employment and Entrepreneurship Program II (SEEP 2).

"This support will go towards promoting entrepreneurship in Rwanda not only through reducing the cost of doing business but also the risk of doing business," said Leonard Rugwabiza Minega, chief economist in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. 

Policy reforms implemented by the Rwandan government helped make it a darling of the World Bank's Doing Business study and Rwanda is currently seen as the second easiest country to do business in Africa (behind only Mauritius). As noted in the PDE post, those reforms had a real impact -- per capita GDP had almost quadrupled since 1995, life expectancy had increased by 23 years, the country’s primary school enrollment had risen by 50 percent and 18,447 new businesses were registered in 2010 alone.

SEEP 2 will be targeted toward youth and women -- as well as micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs. The program was developed jointly by the African Development and the Government of Rwanda and in close consultation with the private sector and other key development partners (Germany, UK, USA, European Commission, France, Netherlands, Sweden and the World Bank).

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