Inkomoko, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation have launched a new program to provide $2.3M USD to help businesses in Rwanda overcome the economic impacts of Covid-19
In support of World Refugee Day celebrated globally on 20th June 2020, Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development will distribute 1,000 grants to businesses in refugee camps and the surrounding host communities in Rwanda. The grants are part of Inkomoko’s larger Covid-19 relief efforts that will provide recovery support for approximately 9,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the country.
“By adapting and increasing our support to entrepreneurs who are more than ever in need of business advisory and financial support — young, refugee, micro-entrepreneurs, we are ensuring that the economic growth of Rwanda is not set back from Covid-19, and that we can be unified in recovering together,” says Nathalie Niyonzima, Managing Director, Inkomoko.
Inkomoko has received a commitment of $2.3M USD from the Mastercard Foundation’s Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Program to support Rwandan businesses to relaunch or rebuild after being negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This one-time support will be distributed as direct relief grants to, at least, 3,500 MSMEs to re-emerge from Covid-19’s economic implications with focus on re-starting businesses that have been shuttered and supporting businesses to adapt to a new business climate.
Chantal, a Congolese refugee, is one of the entrepreneurs that will get a grant today, equivalent to one month of her income.
Chantal works from an outdoor market in the Gihembe Camp, with a small African print cloth under the onions, tomatoes, small dried fish, and cassava flour that she sells to her 12,000 camp neighbors.
As a community food seller, Chantal did not let the supply chain be interrupted by Covid-19 close her business.
“When we couldn’t move out of the camp due to lockdown restrictions, I couldn’t buy from my normal suppliers. I was able to negotiate with a friend in the host community who brought food to the border of the camp for me to buy wholesale. It was hard, but we did it,” Chantal said.
With an Inkomoko grant, Chantal will be able to purchase more fresh items, previously hard to reach, to supplement the food offerings to her community. This income supports her family of eight.
Inkomoko’s grant initiative is in line with Government of Rwanda socio-economic inclusion of refugee and host communities which envisions better standards of living for refugees and their surrounding host community by improving their livelihoods and supporting families in their self-reliance journey.
Inkomoko has been a lead livelihood partner of the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) and UNHCR Rwanda to implement this strategy. The inclusive policies of the Government of Rwanda make it possible for refugees to improve their lives through their entrepreneurial spirit.
“The Mastercard Foundation’s Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Program is supporting partners like Inkomoko who are working in some of the most vulnerable communities across Africa. With funding in a range of areas – from economic support to health – we are ensuring that no one is left behind as our communities begin to recover from this devastating pandemic. The Mastercard Foundation is proud to support refugee entrepreneurs, people who have already demonstrated tremendous resiliency and determination,” says Rica Rwigamba, Country Head, Rwanda at the Mastercard Foundation.
The Inkomoko Relief Fund will launch on 19th June, coinciding with World Refugee Day on 20th June, an internationally recognized day to bring attention to the plight of people who have been forced to flee their country. In line with UNHCR’s 2020 World Refugee Day theme, Every Action Counts, the Inkomoko Relief Fund grants are supporting refugee and host community entrepreneurs to take action in growing their businesses.
In solidarity with the plight of refugees Julie Gichuru, the Mastercard Foundation’s Head of Public Affairs and Communications, has welcomed a takeover of her social media pages by Inkomoko on launch day. Julie is lending her platform of 1.2 million Twitter followers to help support the raising awareness for refugee entrepreneurs. Over the next 6 months, Inkomoko will continue sharing the stories of entrepreneurial recovery on their social media platforms, tracking the impact of the relief funding.
Please tune into Inkomoko’s launch on Friday, 19th June via social media on the following social media channels:
Inkomoko, the Rwandan affiliate of African Entrepreneur Collective, has served the needs of Rwandan businesses since 2012, providing business training, consulting, and access to finance. With 130 staff in 8 offices across Rwanda, Inkomoko has helped more than 13,000 entrepreneurs run their operations more efficiently and strategically, generating a combined new revenue of $18.3M.
On average, refugee entrepreneurs in Inkomoko’s program increased their annual revenues by 244%, and created nearly 3,000 new jobs in 2019. Inkomoko’s sister company, AEC Rwanda Trustee Ltd is the largest lender to refugee entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa, with a 98% repayment rate.