Starting a business is one of the major ambitions and dreams of each and every individual on the African Continent like everywhere in the world since this helps people to get a breakthrough towards their success financially and socially. Despite the fact that the idea of starting a business requires courage and strength from those who intend to start their respective business ventures globally, the Rwandan government through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and other concerned institutions has been made it easier for people who want to register their businesses by putting place policies and a framework that helps the businessmen and women to register their companies in the shortest time possible. Starting a business is the first indicator among the 10 indicators under the Doing Business Report project which is carried out by the World Bank (WB) annually and Rwanda has continued to gradually improve on this indicator in every year the DB report is released. This gain factored in the country's impressive performance in the 2014 World Bank DB report not only in Africa but on international level. Rwanda has been very active since 2008/9. It has been top global reformer twice before in DB 2010 and DB 2011years. Rwanda was again a top reformer in the recently released 2014 Doing Business report. Rwanda was recorded as the 1st country that has advanced the furthest toward the frontier in the ease of doing business since 2005, beating Georgia to this record, and other 173 economies, this being an indication of improvements over time as compared to their own performance in the areas measured by DB. Out of the 189 countries assessed by the World Bank on ease of Doing Business, Rwanda was ranked in the 32 position among the easiest countries to do business globally. With 8 reforms in starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit - legal rights, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders and resolving insolvency, Rwanda gained 20 ranks moving from 52nd to 32nd global easiest economy to do business. The impact is mainly coming from the reforms in registering property (gain of 55 ranks), and in resolving insolvency (gain of 30 ranks). This has been made possible by concerted efforts of all stakeholders in the DB Project . The government has been consistently reforming and has continued to show its commitment towards removing regulatory burdens to business by moving beyond the DB indicators to the overall investment climate issues. Being a reform-minded Government with commitment to broader reforms like public sector reform, decentralization reform, planning and accountability as well as good governance, one can also needlessly say it is also a private sector-minded government with conducive business environment at the heart of Government priorities. Registering/Starting a business Currently, registering a company takes only 6 hours and costs Rwf15, 000 but if an individual registers his/her company online, it's free of charge. It is done in one simple procedure; A client comes and does a name search to ascertain whether the proposed business name is not reserved or in use by another business. Then when name is approved, a form is filled with details of the company address, administration, services and financial or capital information. For Rwandans, the Registrar General's office has connected data base systems with the National Identification Agency and this has saved time of applicants filling in details because the applicant only inserts their ID number and all pertaining bio data is automatically is generated and entered. After filling and submission of application form, payment of 15,000 Rwf ( 24 USD ) for a company or 2000 Rwf for individuals is made in case of physical registration is made whereas for online registration, application is done and submitted free of charge. Once verification of all required info and accompanying documents for each application submitted and consequent approval is complete, a registration certificate is given to the applicant in less than 6 hours and the applicant is free to start operations of their business henceforth. Rwanda made starting a business easier by reducing the time required to obtain a registration certificate. Registration of a business marks it's formalization. The Registrar General, Louise Kanyonga, noted that in a bid to further make starting a business in Rwanda more easily, her office is now consolidating more strategies aimed at putting in place more emphasis on people to register their companies online. She noted that in two months' time, online registration of companies will be compulsory within Kigali city as a pilot area saying that this is meant to encourage more people to use the online registration method rather than to come and register their companies at RDB headquarters. "If we are to achieve our vision and goal of being among the top performers in the world in as far as registration of companies and doing business in general is concerned, online registration of companies is the way to go because it's reliable and friendly compared to the currently physical registration where people come and register their companies at RDB," Kanyonga said. She added that for people who currently need to register their companies online, they can easily access RDB's website which has all information and an online registration manual, saying that easy access to RDB's website is paramount as it enables many people to register their companies online and to make inquiries about registration of their companies and other e-services offered by RDB without going to the offices. According to Kanyonga, online registration of companies started in 2012. Currently 30 percent of the Rwandan population registering their businesses now does it online but her institution has set a target of increasing this percentage to 52 by the 2015 World Bank Doing Business report survey phase. She said that in order to achieve this ambitious goal, RDB continues to work with private sector structures to create awareness on the availability and reliability of the e-registration service. In the previous months, RDB in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF), conducted a nationwide training of staff at Business Development Centers, owners and operators of private cyber-cafes as well as PSF staff in the districts on the online registration of businesses. "The training was successful with an impressive turn-out and we hope that this will be a turning point that will result in more people using the online services," Kanyonga said. The objective behind the training is that with skilled and knowledgeable people at BDCs and private Internet cafes, it will increase the access and usability of the online service. It will also help to tackle another challenge for online registration, which is still low level of computer literacy in the country. She added that the trainings will even create a business opportunity for cyber-cafÉ owners to either organize computer training or offer assistance in registering a business for a fee for those without a computer or internet. As for prospective business owners, especially those upcountry, Kanyonga pointed that they have the advantage that they don't have to travel to Kigali anymore to incorporate their enterprise since they will be doing it at their nearby cyber cafes or in the comfort of their respective habitation. "The main advantage of online registration of companies is that it saves time as well as increasing the number of companies registered in a specific period of time and also enables people to concentrate on other business activities of theirs instead of wasting their valuable time in queues of clients coming to register their companies here at RDB," Kanyonga said. She added that online registration of companies reduces human errors which may occur during the registration process saying that her organization has two online help desk administrators who assist people to register their companies online and this service is free of charge. Easy access to loans According to the Registrar General, some of the major challenges which are still hampering the online registration of companies include internet illiteracy and technical-know-how among the business community saying that they will continue to carry out several trainings among the population across the country on how to use internet which she said would help more people to easily use online registration and have access to RDB information concerning how they can register their companies as well getting any advice from RDB through on how they can further improve their businesses without coming for advice at RDB offices. "I encourage every citizen of this nation to register his or her company because operating a business without its registration is a violation of the law and on the other hand registering a company helps the owner to easily access loans in the banks and other micro finance institutions," Kanyonga said. She pointed out that registering a company is also very important as its helps to have a separation between a company and its proprietor. The Registrar General also emphasized how her office collaborates with different public institutions especially the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) in sensitizing the entire population around the country about the importance of registering a company. According to Kanyonga, registration of companies has played a key role towards increasing the country's tax base through an increased formalization of businesses in the country. Registering companies also helps small companies to get investors who can finance them which in the end enables them to financially grow bigger and to increase Rwanda's GDP. Statistics from RDB indicate that by May 21st this 2013, 1895 companies had been registered through the online process which represents a 125 percent increase from the 842 companies registered last year. Since 1st June of 2012 to May 21st2013, the total number of companies registered is now at 9956 including both online and basic systems. There has been also reduction of pages for company incorporation from 10 to 5 and this correlates to a 50 percent reduction in the time someone has been spending in filling the application forms. What the Business community says Christine Umurerwa , who traveled from Rwamagana to come and register her company which deals in horticulture said: "I couldn't believe that when people visit RDB to register their respective companies, they are offered services in a swift way and this is a sign that our country really deserved the position it got in the 2014 World Bank Doing Report and I am optimistic that we shall even perform even better in the future." Umurerwa noted that despite of the big number of people who come to register seeking to register companies at RDB offices, she believes that people are contented on how they are currently being helped to register their companies at RDB adding that carrying out the registration of companies also enables to people to go back to their respective places of work and residence and do other activities. Gordon Munyankindi, a resident of Nyamata town in Bugesera District who also came to RDB office to register his company which deals in selling eggs said: "Registering a company is very important in as far as having a successful and strong business is concerned since it works as insurance to my business company because there will be no one who can take over the name of my company". He added that registering companies enables the business community to work with confidence in their respective business activities and to contribute to the country's economic growth. Jean Pierre Nduwimana , a resident of Niboye sector, Kicukiro District said: "Currently there is more flexibility as regards to registering a company because even if you don't have a enough time to wait until when your company is registered, you are even allowed to pick the registration form and go with them at your office, fill them and then return them at your time of convenience". He called on RDB to encourage more people to embrace the e-registration service saying that this is time saving and also cost effective since it is free of charge.
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