Business Development Advisors (BDAs) are sector-based advisors for local MSMEs. They are instrumentally part of the broader National Employment Programme (NEP), a Government of Rwanda (GoR) programme aimed at, among others, entrepreneurship development, job creation and employment promotion.
There are 832 BDAs countrywide. In each sector of Rwanda, there are two BDAs, tasked with supporting local MSMEs to develop bankable microbusiness projects through business planning and advisory services. The bankable projects are financed through SACCOs. The BDA scheme is managed by Rwanda Development Board (RDB), which is responsible for, among others, recruiting and training BDAs.
The NEP is a firm basis for and is linked to national strategies and policies aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and private sector-led development such as, the National Strategy for Transformation (NST 1), the Entrepreneurship Development Policy (EDP) and so on. As a key element of the NEP, the BDA program is an instrumental scheme in achieving national strategy and policy objectives. However, according to RDB officials, the performance of BDAs based on expected results against actual results is still low.
In the framework of the EDP implementation, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM), approached implementing partners, that is the Rwanda Institute of Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship and Microfinance (RICEM) and German Sparkassenstiftung (DSIK) expressed the need to enhance capacities of BDAs. For BDAs to improve the quality of their services to MSMEs, they ought to be professionalized and positioned as certified business advisors recognized by business development institutions. Additionally, this will make their services more attractive to MSMEs. Although, according to the mid-term evaluation report of BDAs under the NEP programme, there is more than professionalization of BDAs to enhance capacities necessary for achieving expected results.
With that background, RICEM and DSIK are working on a formalized training program that will empower BDAs and establish them as more competent and professional advisors. The process of professionalization will not only entail well-crafted and revamped training. Practical and methodological approaches to business management and coaching are as well being deployed. The intervention leverage on the existing training content by RDB and RICEM, as a recognized training institute. To further inform the training content and methodology, a needs assessment has been conducted with the support of RDB. As earlier mentioned, it is important to note that though that strengthening the BDA scheme requires addressing other affiliated structural issues and not only professionalization. This concept intervenes actively at the capacity development (training and coaching) level while providing advice to overcome non-capacity-related bottlenecks that impede the achievement of BDA intended goals.
Based on the results from the needs assessment conducted and the pilot phase done last year 2020, now the rollout phase is being implemented in the year 2021f or selected BDAs both in and out of Kigali city and out of 832BDAs, 129 BDAs are trained and certified as professional BDAs