There are various sources to fund business ideas that could be submitted by refugees living in Rwanda to ensure economic independence and improved well-being, the ministry in charge of emergency management said.
Gonzague Karagire, refugee program manager at the ministry, told Doing Business that there are various small businesses that have been found to be viable and bankable for refugees living in Rwanda.
“Any refugee living in Rwanda who might have a business idea could get funding to implement it. We have launched a program of 12 billion Rwandan francs to fund business ideas until 2026,” he said.
He said that there are different partners that have been identified to strengthen the financial inclusion of refugees.
“Some can get startup kits to create jobs after TVET training. There are different viable businesses such as trading in different commodities. They are licensed to operate in different sectors,” he said.
He said refugees can get matching grants to implement their business ideas.
Matching grants are conditional grants that require an organization or individual to raise a specific portion of the grant by soliciting new funds.
“They will be able to access loans from financial institutions and the project will help them repay part of the loan. This will attract more refugees into business and help them create jobs,” he said.
Karagire said the Rwf 12 billion project is being implemented in districts where refugee camps are located and towns across the country.
Cities include Kigali City, Huye and Nyamata.
“Those with commercial projects not exceeding 5 million Rwandan francs receive a matching grant to cover 50% of the investment needed. Those with business projects worth more than Rwf 5 million and not more than Rwf 25 million must obtain a matching grant which covers 40% while those who need more than Rwf 25 million capital, receive a matching grant that covers 30%,” he said.
8.6 million euros for renewable energies
The program to provide matching grants to refugees comes on top of another called “Renewable Energy for Refugees” which was implemented at €8.6 million and has enabled refugees to set up different small businesses .
Denyse Umubyeyi, the national representative of Practical Action which funded the project, said that 50% of refugees in Kigeme, Nyabiheke and Gihembe refugee camps have benefited from the project.
“It has helped provide renewable energy and improved cooking stoves and it has helped some to start small businesses,” she said.
She said 50% of refugees have access to solar energy while 703 new businesses have been established.
“At least 150 existing refugee businesses have been supported to increase their income by 50%. Business centers have been established in the refugee camps as an enabling environment for their economic independence,” she noted.
At least 50,000 refugees could benefit from the initiative.
Umubyeyi said the businesses the refugees manage to set up include hairdressers and salons, butchers, internet cafes, telephone repair shops, tailoring and shoemaking workshops, food production, egg incubation , carpentry, cafes, corn processing, milk collection centers, among others others.
The recent report by the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security Committee which assessed the implementation of the Refugees Act 2014 indicates that, in line with financial inclusion, more than 72,000 refugees are using now banking services.
Rwanda hosts more than 137,000 refugees grouped in more than 37,000 families as of May 18, 2021.
Most of the refugees are Congolese representing 56.3% and Burundians representing 43.5%.
Some 91% of the refugees are hosted in six camps while 9% are in towns, mainly in Bugesera, Huye and Kigali.
In addition, 12,332 refugees received training related to job creation.