Development of the Private Sector

Private sector development started quite early in Rwanda, when we realised that not all the inhabitants of a given region could make their living out of agriculture and related sectors because of the scarcity of land for cultivation. Therefore, we have started with a specific programme to promote non-agricultural income in the frame of the CYGAND project in 1989.

This programme was complemented by one dealing with small unions of mining artisans producing rare and highly valued metals also in Rwanda. They were supported by COPIMAR, theoretically a union of cooperatives active in mining. We have supported this central unit in establishing better procedures and alternative markets.

In Burkina Faso, Austroprojekt was called to accompany a huge investment programme targeting the local production of 30,000 ploughs. A parastatal, centrally located production unit assembled these ploughs and nobody took care of the numerous artisans trained by other development programmes to do the same. This led to the idea to support the artisans, whose level of organisation and control of the market was very poor, at least in the inevitable reparation of the ploughs and the production of spare parts.

This led to a project called PERCOMM, which was operational for more than 12 years and, in the end, had helped with the formation of eight regionally based associations of artisans, men and women, promoting the interests of their members and playing the role of a service provider by organising trainings, negotiating credit facilities, etc.

Austroprojekt has provided elementary advisory services to the artisans that engulfed all aspects of micro-enterprises promotion: technical advisory services in management and credit support, promotion of self-organisation and marketing. We have also conceived a special credit scheme, first working with a guarantee fund and later on establishing a direct relationship between the newly constituted associations of artisans and decentralised financial institutions. From the second phase (out of four), we have integrated new branches with female predominance in order to raise the involvement of women in the programme.

In Tanzania, we supported the Animal Disease Research Institute – ADRI of Dar es Salaam in conducting a study on the prevalence of zoonoses amongst cattle held in backyards in and around the city. This led to a programme supporting dairy farmers and milk producers cum traders in general in order to re-establish a market for fresh milk and related products. At the time, the only milk available in the market was milk processed from imported milk powder.

This programme had a huge success, mainly because it was the first programme to introduce the milk of Maasai cows located in a reasonable distance to the town to the market. Fresh milk, yoghurts and other milk products were sold and consumed in large quantities. The project expanded to other areas, namely the lake region between Musoma and Mwanza at the Lake Victoria. After an evaluation of the first two phases, the emphasis of the project shifted from the support to the production to service provision. Many training sessions were held by private providers. The establishment of a microfinance system for the investment needs of the beneficiaries, mostly women, was one of the main features of this phase that ended in 2006. The project also supported the emergence of the newly created Tanzania Dairy Board, which contrary to its predecessor is based on the membership of private milk chain actors instead of government representatives.

In Vietnam, after supporting a tractor rehabilitation and lending programme for rice farmers in the Mekong delta, we implemented an action research programme to deal with the problem of post harvest treatment of the rice production. The idea was to enable cooperatives to dry and mill the rice produced by their members on a communal level. Several rice mills were built after long administrative procedures, which had as an effect that the soundness of the proposed schemes could not be tested fully due to the late completion of those units.

Other activities in this field concerned a school-lever programme in Kerio valley in Kenya, where we supported pupils of a secondary school in establishing themselves as modern farmers on plots allocated to them by their families. We also supported a programme to promote Medium and Small Scale Enterprises in Uganda.

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