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NIRDA’s open calls support boosts garment industry performance

When she first heard about the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA)’s Open Calls Program to help garment industries acquire upgraded equipment through a competition, Joy Kasangire never hesitated to join.

She owns Promota Creations garment factory based in Kigali, specializing in production of casual t-shirt and shirts.

For years, Kasangire’s wish was to own more machines but due to limited capacity she only produced on orders.

Faced with such constraints, the launch of NIRDA’s Open Calls program two years ago came in handy for Kasangire.

The program’s objective is to support selected small and medium industries in a given value chain to acquire modern equipment to improve competitiveness and productivity.

Such support is also meant to build the capacity of local producers to satisfy local market, increase exports while creating more decent and productive jobs.

NIRDA’s Open Calls program package also includes technical support, business management training and business advisory services to beneficiaries among others.

The inaugural Open Calls initiative targeted garment and banana wine processing value chains, where six industries in each benefitted.

Other beneficiary companies in garment include African Sewing Club, Weya Creations, New Kigali designers and Outfitters Ltd, Gahaya Links Ltd and Ambara Uberwe Nawe cooperative located in Rusizi district.

Some companies received heavy and automated specialized machines used to perform specific tasks such as embroidery, collar and pockets unfolding, fusing machines, cutting machines and others generally used in sewing.

The equipment were provided in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Rwanda and The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

Kasangire, like other beneficiaries describe the support as a boost to the garment industry.

Responding to COVID-19

In responding to the current health needs, the garment industry in the country embarked on mass production of face masks.

“During the COVID-19, we turned focus on facemask to help prevent the spread of the virus. With newly acquired machines we increased our production capacity to 6,000 facemasks per day,” Kasangire says.

Other factories such as Kigali Sewing Clubs produce over 10,000 facemasks while Weya Creations produces between 4,000 and 5,000.

Post COVID-19 production

Kasangire received two heavy automated machines that fold collars of shirts and perform other finishing tasks.

She also received over 50 modern sewing machines believed to be faster and more efficient.

“After the COVID-19 our plan is to launch mass production of shirts and t-shirts,a shift from producing on orders,” she notes.

Her factory produces 500 shirts and 1000 t-shirts daily.

She plans to work with distributors across the country to expand the reach of her products.

“We are thankful to NIRDA and its partners for the support as it increased our capacity. Our goal of further expansion is within reach which would increase workers from 30 to 100.”

Aurore Kayitesi, the owner of Weya Creations said is now able to produce between 4000 and 5000 facemasks.

The target is to produce 1000 undergarments, 100 jeans, 100 shirts and 100 t-shirts.

Andrew Kanyonya, the owner New Kigali designers and Outfitters Ltd, said the support was timely intervention needed to improve the sector performance.

Kanyonya, expects booming business in the garment sector once the economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

 “The support was rightly channeled based on NIRDA’s needs assessment,” Kanyonya said.

 “We look forward to partnering with UNIDO and NIRDA to scale up production and improve lives of people in the industrial sector.”

Kanyonya noted there is improvement in their delivery speed, quality of products as well as business operation, attributable to NIRDA support.

“You are able to deliver quality products on time which guarantees customer satisfaction. The garment products could soon hit regional market should things return to normal,” he said.

“With the new machines we hope to increase our production capacity by 30 per cent which would in turn create jobs by the same percentage,” he added.

Claire Mukeshimana, NIRDA’s Acting Director General underlined the need to support small and medium industries as per NIRDA’s mandate.

She also urged the beneficiaries to put the acquired equipment to good use in order to create more jobs.

“We chose to support industries through Open Calls program in order to encourage competitiveness and production of quality products for both local and international market,” she said.

She, however, said that much as garment and banana wine received the equipment as non-repayable facility, NIRDA has since changed the approach.

Under the new criteria, beneficiary companies will be supported to acquire new equipment on free-interest credit but without the need for collateral.

NIRDA is currently partnering with Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) to support industries in the Open Calls program.

NIRDA currently works with firms involved in fruits and vegetable’s value chain, wood processing value chain and cow in the car value chain.

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