Rwanda: New Trade Minister to Prioritise SME Growth

President Paul Kagame on Monday, March 15 made changes in government, appointing two ministers; one of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Local Government.

In the changes that were announced by Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, Beata Habyarimana, an economist was appointed in the trade docket where she replaced Soraya Hakuziyaremye, while Jean Marie Gatabazi became the new Minister for Local Government.

Gatabazi who was until his appointment the Governor of Northern Province, replaced Anastase Shyaka.

On the other hand, Hakuziyaremye was transferred from the trade docket to the Central Bank, where she became the Deputy Governor.

Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday, Habyarimana, who has been a banker, noted that she has been working with businesses and understands the business environment and the challenges faced.

“We have also been witnessing the evolving regulations in place so I think that my input will mostly go into SMEs; to empower them and also, the industry under the made in Rwanda programme, because this is an area with many promising things,” said Habyarimana, who has been the deputy managing director, Bank of Africa.

Despite being relatively new to the political scene, Habyarimana comes in with lots of experience from the finance industry where she worked for 18 years.

Her area of expertise is business restructuring and international compliance, according to her profile.

“The other part (of focus) will be on investment because with my knowledge on how businesses get financed, and how they can fail, I think we’ll have a nice way of dealing and discussing with various investors.”

In the finance industry she has passion for mobilising financing for small and medium enterprises.

Upon learning about her appointment, Habyarimana took to twitter and expressed how “deeply honored” she was for the trust President Kagame bestowed in her.

“I pledge to serve our country with dedication and to the best of my ability under your leadership,” she said.

On her LinkedIn profile, Habyarimana is described as a strategic thinker, dedicated professional and entrepreneur in banking.

Habyarimana is one of the pioneers of the compliance function within the finance industry where she and others, about 10 years ago, created a compliance forum to leverage international standards of the industry for Rwanda.