The Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) has floated subsidiary financing that will be used to finance development activities for refugees living in Rwanda and their neighboring communities.
The funding worth US$ 9million (over Rwf8.9billion), in grants and loans, meant for implementation of the Socio-Economic Inclusion for Refugees and Host Communities in Rwanda (SEIRHCRP) was unveiled and signed Monday in the presence of BRD partners- the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA) and the World Bank (WB).
Under this agreement, BRD will provide matching grants through Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) to viable projects from entrepreneurs among the refugees or host communities as individuals, Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) or as Cooperatives.
Among the first applying institutions to express interest to work with BRD in the component two of Socio-Economic Inclusion of Refugees and Host Communities Project referred to as “Jya Mbere project” was Africa Entrepreneur Collective Rwanda Trustee Company Ltd. (AEC RT) and Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) Atlas Mara.
The Jya Mbere project is being implemented by BRD to contribute to refugee economic integration and economic growth by promoting entrepreneurship and employment for host community members and refugees.
Claire Karemera, the SEIRHCRP Project Manager said that the Jya Mbere project will last for five years and be implemented as loan financing for refugees and communities located in districts of Kirehe, Gicumbi, Gisagara, Karongi, Nyamagabe and Gatsibo.
Karemera explained that the loans, to be applied for using the refugees’ bank accounts, will be 50% subsidized for applicants seeking below Rwf5million, and those seeking between Rwf5-Rwf25million will get a 40% subsidy, while applications of above Rwf25million will get a 30% subsidy.
Currently there are over 150,000 refugees living in Rwanda from its neigbouring countries of Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.
BRD’s CEO Kampeta Pichette Sayinzoga reiterated the Bank’s commitment to effectively implement and operationalize this project which falls in line with its mandate to facilitate the emergence of a strong private sector that contributes to socio-economic development in Rwanda.
“Refugee and host communities in Rwanda are no exception and highly deserve of such initiatives. BRD is also embarking on reconnecting with our mandate as a typical Development Finance Institution as we appropriately align with the Rwanda National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Kampeta said.
Kampeta thanked the first applicants (AEC and BPR) towards implementing this initiative and encouraged other financial players to approach BRD and apply in order to widen the pool and reach more potential beneficiaries.
Rolande Pryce, the World Bank Rwanda Country Manager said that the funding milestone is part of $60million meant for improving lives of refugee communities, particularly in light of the potential for this partnership to promote entrepreneurship and income-generation among refugees and host communities who have been hard hit by Covid-19.
“We look forward to other participating financial institutions in target districts joining this grant scheme,” Pryce said.
She also acknowledged the long-term development approach to forced displacement which is the pioneering work of the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“Tackling force displacement, one of the defining humanitarian/development challenges of this generation, is a global priority of the World Bank,” Pryce said.
On behalf of Rwanda government, Olivier Kayumba the Permanent Secretary, MINEMA who also officiated the signing of the subsidiary financing agreements, said that Rwanda is keen to ensure the sustained provision of long-term finance to support the inclusion of refugees and host communities.
“In light of the massive socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, government acknowledges that refugee and host communities have equally been impacted, therefore fast and substantive action is necessary to help preserve employment, and a continuation of life cycles in the camps and the communities they engage with in a daily basis,” said Kayumba.