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IFC Report Shows Growing Role for Women Entrepreneurs in Rwanda


In Kigali:
Rogers Kayihura
Phone: +250 591303, Cell: +250 851 1145
E-mail: rkayihura@worldbank.org

In Washington, D.C.:
Katia Theriault
Phone: +1 202 458 4662
E-mail: ktheriault@ifc.org

In Johannesburg:
Kimberlee Brown
Phone: +2711 731 3175
E-mail: kbrown@ifc.org


Kigali, Rwanda, November 6, 2008—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs today released a report that reveals an increase in women’s participation and leadership in the private sector and their significant contribution to Rwanda’s development.

The report, Voices of Women Entrepreneurs in Rwanda, provides new information for policymakers to better support women in business. It also features role models for aspiring women entrepreneurs, who today attended the chamber’s first national roundtable, “Integrating Women Entrepreneurs in the Economic Development of Rwanda.” The roundtable was chaired by Jeanette Kagame, the first lady of Rwanda.

Rwanda is a leader among developing nations in creating opportunities for women. Forty-two percent of enterprises are headed by women, spurred by Rwanda’s 2003 constitution and matrimonial inheritance and land law reforms. The country is also a leader in women’s participation in government—over half of parliamentarians are women and key political posts are occupied by women.

Thérèse Bibonobono, Director of the Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, said, “This report serves as an inspiration for young women who are just starting in their professional life in a challenging post-conflict environment.”

The chamber is partnering with the IFC Rwanda Entrepreneurship Program to offer training for women entrepreneurs and introduce IFC’s small business support innovations Business Edge and SME Toolkit.

In Rwanda’s informal sector, 58 percent of enterprises are headed by women, accounting for 30 percent of national output. Yet women continue to face impediments from entering the formal sector, and have limited access to managerial positions and technical skills training. The report shows that despite these challenges, women are branching out into new sectors such as information and communication technologies and oil and gas.

Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said, “This report highlights the powerful impact that women entrepreneurs are having in Rwanda today and how continued support for women in business is critical for development.”

Since its founding, IFC has committed $18.5 million in financing to companies operating in Rwanda. IFC’s investment strategy in the country focuses on sectors with high development potential such as tourism, infrastructure, financial markets, agribusiness, construction, and private education. IFC provides advisory services to support an improved investment climate, encourage entrepreneurs, and increase access to finance through leasing and mortgage finance and better credit reporting.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, creates opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We foster sustainable economic growth in developing countries by supporting private sector development, mobilizing private capital, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. Our new investments totaled $16.2 billion in fiscal 2008, a 34 percent increase over the previous year. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About the Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs
The Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs is one of nine chambers of the Private Sector Federation. Its mission is to promote women’s entrepreneurship within the private sector economic development, through the promotion of training, creativity, and competitiveness at the national, regional, and international levels.  For more information, visit www.rpsf.org.rw.