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Entrepreneurs upbeat as GroFin steps in to help mitigate COVID-19 impact

By IGIHE
On 24 December 2020 at 10:22

GroFin Rwanda, a specialist impact-driven SME financier, is providing extensive support to its SME clients in different countries to help them mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses.

GroFin clients in Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Ghana are also benefitting from €5,2 million in funding from the Investing for Employment (IFE) facility. GroFin is partnering with IFE, which is a subsidiary of the German Development Bank (KfW) and forms an integral part of the German Government’s Special Initiative on Training and Employment ("Invest for Jobs").

Under the Invest for Jobs brand, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) offers a package of measures to support investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa, of which IFE is one key pillar

GroFin is a multinational, private developmental finance institution committed to the successful development of SMEs to create sustainable wealth, employment, and economic growth. It provides funding to the underserved market of small and growing businesses that often struggle to access funding from traditional financiers.

Rwandan entrepreneurs have received 40% of the total €5,2 million in funding and these local beneficiaries have commended GroFin for its support in aiding their recovery, enabling them to sustain their operations, and to protect employment.

Wilson Gafurama, managing director of GroFin client RGL Security, explained that some of its business activities were halted due to COVID-19, while some of its clients failed to pay their debts to the company. He thanked GroFin for interventions that helped the company to return to normalcy. RGL has over 3000 employees.

“Some clients halted their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We used to work with 400 institutions, including gaming companies. Some suspended their activities without clearing payments,” he said.

GroFin assisted RGL by conducting an assessment to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on the business and enabled it to access IFE grant funding to pay its employees for two months.

“It is in this context that GroFin came to us and analysed our business. In November, they provided two-month salaries for our employees,” Gafurama noted.

“It was the first time we received grant funding since the establishment of the company. We were overwhelmed to see a financial institution willing to provide over Rwf 200 million in funding to us. This made an immense contribution to the company’s smooth operations and wellbeing of RGL employees,” added Gafurama.

Dr Ubarijoro Sowaf, managing director of Ubuzima Polyclinic, says his business has enjoyed a good partnership with GroFin for the past eight years and benefitted from deepened support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have received funding to mitigate the effect of COVID-19, which helped me to pay employees and clear outstanding debt. The ongoing partnership I experienced with GroFin is highly commendable. We used the Rwf 173 million in funding to mitigate effect of the pandemic by repaying an Rwf 100 million loan, to buy hospital equipment needed on daily basis and to pay employees for six months,” he said.

Wenceslas Habamungu, managing director and owner of Ecoplastic, a recycling business producing plastic bags in Mageragere in Nyarugenge district, says GroFin has helped the company in the areas of business advisory and training.
“Working with GroFin has tangible and mutual benefits. Unlike some banks, GroFin never abandons its clients and continues equipping you with soft skills and tangible support until your business is successful and sustainable,” he said.

“GroFin provides loans and then further assists in managing these funds for free. This is something that would normally be a paid-for service. This shows how advantageous it is to with work with GroFin as they provide all necessary support for business growth,” added Habamungu.

Christian Bugabo, the Investment Executive who heads up GroFin Rwanda, says the funding provided through GroFin’s partnership with KfW is aligned with national efforts to support economic recovery amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The funding is aimed at supporting recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic which has shaken businesses across the board, including entrepreneurs. You must find the right partner in difficult times. The funding was greatly needed to prevent these entrepreneurs from halting their activities and to help their businesses to regain strength to create more job opportunities as the pandemic slows down,” he said.

Bugabo says GroFin will continue to walk with beneficiaries on their journey to regain growth. “We are optimistic that their operations will progress further. GroFin will sustain closer collaboration with beneficiary companies and provide all the necessary support for their businesses to thrive,” he reiterated.

Headquartered in Mauritius, GroFin offers financing and support to SMEs in 14 countries in Africa and the Middle East. It is supported by 34 international finance institutions, development organisations, and private funders who have committed nearly $535 million in capital.

GroFin has been operating in Rwanda for 13 years – since 2007. To date, it has invested $24 million to support 56 entrepreneurs in the country. This paved the way for the creation of 4033 jobs, of 32% of which are held by women and 75% of which are held by unskilled or semi-skilled workers.

GroFin provides loans ranging between $100,000 (over Rwf 98 million) and $1,5 million (over Rwf 1,4 billion) to help them increase profitability, create jobs, and contribute to national economic development.

The funding helped businesses to buy new equipment.
Wilson Gafurama, managing director of RGL Security thanked GroFin for interventions that helped the company to return to normalcy.
Dr Ubarijoro Sowaf, managing director of Ubuzima Polyclinic, says his business has enjoyed a good partnership with GroFin for the past eight years.
Wenceslas Habamungu, managing director and owner of Ecoplastic says GroFin has helped the company in the areas of business advisory and training.
RGL Security headquarters.
Ecoplastic is a recycling business producing plastic bags in Mageragere in Nyarugenge district.
Christian Bugabo, the Investment Executive who heads up GroFin Rwanda, says the funding provided through GroFin’s partnership with KfW is aligned with national efforts to support economic recovery amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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