Why Rwanda?

Rwanda drapeauYes, why hold the next edition of the SAM in Rwanda? Why choose this country to hold Africa's largest inclusive finance conference, the event of the year 2021 for the entire sector? Firstly because the Rwandan government asked us to.

This is the second time in the history of the SAM that a country has made an official approach to ADA, its partners and the Luxembourg government to claim the SAM. This is a great honour for the organisers. Above all, we can measure the progress made since Luc Vandeweerd, now Board member of ADA, had the great idea of joining the Investors' Fair with some training sessions, and then a discussion. In 2013, he renamed the concept 'African Microfinance Week' (SAM). As a result, 220 people gathered in Arusha for the first SAM. In 2015, 550 people attended the second SAM in Dakar. The third SAM attracted 700 people in Addis Ababa in 2017 and the fourth in 2019 was close to 1,000 participants! 
The event is now becoming so important that many governments express their interest in hosting the SAM every year!
This means that this week is more than just a conference. With its 20 or so free training sessions and workshops, its Investors' Fair, its Innovators' Village and its debates, the SAM has been able to create a beneficial ecosystem that benefits not only the sector as a whole, but above all the African countries, first and foremost the host country.
Some 40 partners, the constant support of African professional networks, the repeated presence of some 20 sponsors, and almost 600 MFIs represented make this event a unique place, a place to be.

“Hosting the African Microfinance Week in Rwanda will be an honor for the country as we believe that this event will provide a unified African platform for exchange on microfinance issues on the African continent with an objective of building the development and resilience of the sector.”
Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (Rwanda)

In 2021, you will have to be in Kigali, from 18 to 22 October, which will become the centre of inclusive finance for a week!

This 5th edition of the SAM "One is not born resilient but becomes resilient: Fostering inclusive finance to better overcome crisis!" aims to federate the reflections and commitments of the different categories of actors in the African inclusive finance sector on the strategies and actions to be carried out to strengthen the resilience of financial services operators and beneficiary populations, and to accelerate their progress towards the sustainable development goals. 

« The theme of resilience has been chosen to be at the heart of the reflections and exchanges of the SAM 2021 in order to contribute to the construction of a more agile and impactful inclusive finance sector, able to cope with severe shocks, such as those linked to the Covid-19 pandemic or climate change. The aim of the SAM 2021 is clearly to help build the resilience of the sector. » 
Laura Foschi, Executive Director of ADA

Laura Foschi
Laura Foschi at the SAM 2019 in Ouagadougou
© Jean-Claude Frisque

Under these conditions, which other country than Rwanda, "The Land of a Thousand Hills", the first country in Africa to have introduced "zero plastic" as early as 2004 in response to certain ecological challenges, could best host this SAM?

For the last 25 years, the Government and its partners have been working to raise sustainable growth, economic opportunities and living standards of all Rwandans. Key programmes include countrywide available Umurenge SACCOs (savings and credit cooperatives) located at every administrative sector and designed to drive social and economic rural transformation through 100% financial inclusion. This network of SACCOs and other microfinance institutions (MFIs) across the country are used to deliver other government programmes like the social protection scheme (VUP) and the universal community health insurance scheme which reach over 8 million people; a coverage rate of 85%o the population.
Other programmes in financial inclusion include improved legal and regulatory framework and the use of latest digital financial service for the benefit of the population.
Even so, extra effort is needed to make sure the sustainability of such initiatives is made, with efforts from among others local private sector, development partners and foreign investment. In Rwanda, access to finance continues to be a crucial component of the National development plans and there is still a room for improvement. Key issues in this context include matching the supply of financial services better to the demand, ensuring that financial product design and delivery channels respond better to the needs of particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, youth and women and including people from rural areas into the formal financial system. 
Rwanda is also a formidable logistics hub, voted Africa’s best MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Congresses et Events) destination given her friendly visa regime, security, world-class meetings infrastructure, both international and local hotel brands, ease of air connectivity with  its national Airline RwandAir, flying to over 29 destinations in Africa. Other international Airlines such as KLM, SN Brussels, Qatar, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopia Airlines and Kenya Airways also make Kigali and Rwanda one of Africa’s most exciting new and suitable convention destinations to host the African Micofinance Week (SAM)  in 2021. 

For all these reasons, the Rwandan government strongly believes that the MAS represents a great opportunity to provide a unique African platform for exchange on the inclusive finance issues facing the African continent by bringing together all the professionals of the sector.

More than 20 years of cooperation between Rwanda and Luxembourg

Franz Fayot_MAEE Luxembourg
© Sip/Yves Kortum

« Cooperation relations between Luxembourg and Rwanda have been close for over 20 years. We have attentively followed Rwanda's proactivity in financial inclusion and I share the vision that access to inclusive financial services creates economic opportunities for SMEs, especially those led by women and youth. I therefore welcome the organisation of the 5th edition of the SAM in Kigali as a concrete example of a new generation of cooperation, drawing on the expertise of Luxembourg and international inclusive finance sector. The SAM is an excellent venue for exchanges and meetings for microfinance institutions, fintechs, investors, regulatory agencies, technical assistance providers, as well as associations and networks active in this area. »
Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs