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Welcome to Access to Finance Rwanda quarterly Newsletter.


The first quarter of 2021 has been a very busy period as we were wrapping up Phase II of our strategic plan and getting ready for the new phase. Phase III defines the direction that AFR will take in the next five years which aims at facilitating a diverse and inclusive financial sector that delivers real value to the economy and people, in particular unserved and underserved populations.

This newsletter issue will focus on highlights of the first quarter of 2021. In the next issue, we will take you through our new ambitious and transformational strategy which will cover 2021-2025.

COVID-19 changed the work experience for many organisations, and AFR is not an exception.  We have embraced hybrid working environments with the flexibility of working from home and in the office. Our monthly LEAD series has shifted from in-person attendance to virtual settings. For those who don’t know yet about this knowledge platform, LEAD series is for expert insights and discussions on topics pertaining to the financial sector development and economic transformation in Rwanda.

iHuzo and SME response clinic, the two digital solutions that we developed in collaboration with partners to enable Rwanda Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to navigate through COVID-19 are also other examples of how AFR shifted priorities and found innovative ways to adapt. We will also share more about the two projects achievements during the first three months of 2021.

We hope you will enjoy reading our activities highlights and that you will find this issue informative.

The SME Response Clinic recognising the role of small businesses on the road to recovery

In order to support entrepreneurs in Rwanda struggling to adjust to the economic realities of COVID-19, we have partnered with the Rwanda Private Sector Federation and ConsumerCentriX to set up the SME Response Clinic. This digital platform provides access to training, industry insights, and financial management advice to entrepreneurs in Rwanda struggling to adjust to the economic realities of COVID-19. As of today, the website has 36,123 views from 23,404 visitors. In addition, in order to celebrate exceptional businesses and to recognize the role of small businesses in Rwanda’s road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 18th we have launched SME Response Clinic Business Awards which is dubbed “Let’s Move Forward Together”.
IHUZO on expanding the e-commerce sector in Rwanda for both businesses & individuals

In light of the pandemic, it became clear that the value propositions of digital adoption and digital commerce are higher for society at large, by providing continuity of essential services and goods and by offering contactless, cashless transactions. That is how iHuzo project came to life. In partnership with ICT chamber, we aim at accelerating the growth of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) through expanding the e-commerce sector in Rwanda. The iHuzo website is now live and as of today, we have onboarded 174 local MSEs into e-commerce and digital commerce platforms as well as 280 i-workers. 
The 2020 Rwanda Agriculture Yearbook was published in February 2021 and the publication features AFR interventions in Agriculture financing and insurance.
 

AFR has been featured in the first edition of the Kigali startup Guide. The Startup Guide is a global publication that produces guidebooks and online content to help entrepreneurs navigate in different start-up scenes across the world.
 

74,000 Farmers were linked to financial institutions through PROFIFA project (promotion for Financial Inclusion for Smallholder Farmers Grouped Into Saving Groups), a project we implemented in partnership with Care International Rwanda and DUHAMIC ADRI. To learn more about the project, click here.
 
FinScope 2020 Gender Thematic Report

In 2020, AFR in partnership with the Government of Rwanda initiated the fourth FinScope survey. The main objective was to assess how the landscape of financial access and use has changed since 2016 and to measure the extent to which various developments within the financial sector have impacted the levels of financial inclusion in the country. In order to identify and address gender financial inclusion inequalities, a gender thematic analysis of FinScope 2020 has been conducted, constituting the second edition following the 2016 publication. Finscope 2020 Gender report
Other Studies
In case you haven’t visited our website lately, below are new publications that you may have missed: 
 
  • In Rwanda, Banks control majority of the financial sector assets and are offering a diverse range of financial products and services to many Rwandans and MSMEs, their survival from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic hardship is of very important and is of interest to many stakeholders. In order to understand the extent to which Rwanda’s financial sector has been affected by COVID-19, AFR in partnership Rwanda Bankers Association (RBA) conducted a rapid survey that aimed to inform policy debates on how to support the financial sector cope with the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the recovery processes. Read More about the findings
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, we turned to virtual events as an alternative so that we can keep the discussion on financial inclusion going on and apart from the shift to digital events, the pandemic changed the focus on the conversation too.  In these first three months of 2021, we have organised a variety of online events.
16th March: In the framework of the celebration of the International Women’s Day, we collaborated with Gender Monitoring Office for the dissemination event of the Finscope 2020. This is   in line of continuously avail gender-responsive data particularly focusing on the financial sector. The webinar also served as an opportunity for stakeholders in Rwanda’s financial and women empowerment sectors to make recommendations in addition to reflecting on policies and interventions that affect women’s uptake of financial services in Rwanda.
February & March: As part of the SME Response Clinic, a series of Facebook live webinars were organised. The webinar organised in February focused on the work of business development service providers to support SMEs in recovering from the pandemic effects and in March, the focus was on the ongoing efforts to onboard SMEs onto e-commerce platforms as well as opportunities and challenges.
February & March:  As part of iHuzo project, various webinars were organised. Below are some of the webinars organised.
How to take e-commerce across all districts of Rwanda and beyond.
E-commerce onboarding webinar for agri-businesses webinar.
Media coverage: 
 
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