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Microcredit, in Rwanda and Many Other Parts of Africa, has Lost its Original Aim

The evidence against the effectiveness of microcredit as an engine of small-business growth continues to mount with the publication of David Poole’s excellent book ‘Entrepreneurs and SMEs in Rwanda: The Model Pupil Paradox’ (Bloomsbury, 2021). In the case of Rwanda, the country’s post-genocide development plan laid down in 2000 targeted the creation of an entrepreneurial economy built on small and medium-sized businesses by 2020. The aim was for Rwanda to become an “Asian Tiger”, a middle-income country. Now, Rwanda is still a “least developed country” as measured by the United Nations. The government and many people in Rwanda, Poole notes, have followed the prescription given the major development institutions, and in terms of incomes, considerable progress has been made, albeit from a very low starting point. The truth is that Rwandans are no more likely than anyone else to succeed in business. Poole bases his work on in-depth interviews with 21 aspiring Rwandan entrepreneurs. There was, writes Poole, “no pre-existing massive reservoir of entrepreneurs-in-waiting that could be called forth, at will, by government policy.”