The First Lady Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, on Saturday officiated celebrations to mark 10 years of Inkomoko, lauding the business accelerator for making a difference and building resilience in Rwanda’s economy and beyond.
Inkomoko, a leading business accelerator in East Africa and largest lender to refugees in Africa, marks its tenth anniversary and service to more than 40,000 entrepreneurs. Inkomoko’s 10th anniversary, themed “A Celebration of Community’’ brings together partners, clients, and friends who have supported and worked with Inkomoko over the last decade.
Mrs. Kagame explained that Inkomoko, in Kinyarwanda translates to “the origin” and her understanding, is that it is a play on the “seed” assistance that Inkomoko has been providing for ten years, in forms of capital, mentorship and networking opportunities, for micro, small and medium-sized businesses.
“The wonderful work you have put in, is truly a gift to us all, and judging from your model’s exportation to Kenya and Ethiopia, you are on the right track to a global presence,” Mrs. Kagame said.
Mrs. Kagame underscored Inkomoko’s inspiring, deeply humane inclusiveness in service provision, and embodiement of the Rwandan effort to overcome poverty, and protect the dignity of not only citizens, but also those who have sought refuge in Rwanda.
“You do your part, daily, in contributing to our National Strategy for Transformation, to achieve the high standards of living we all deserve,” she said.
The First Lady asked that the Inkomoko model expands on Rwanda touching all kinds of businesses but also becomes a household name across Africa, as the best model towards supporting more businesses to thrive.
And to do that, Mrs. Kagame said Inkomoko must understand and remember a core aspect of the President’s Pledge and Call to “thinking big”.
“Thinking Big” is not always about being big, which I hope small and medium businesses understand. “Thinking Big”, is about the greatness of your ideas, the scale of the potential impact, and the highest of standards, that you are willing to perpetually demand, of yourselves”
With Inkomoko’s moto of “Bravery and Community”, the above message landed on fertile soil and the numbers speak loudly.
By providing advisory services and more than $7.7M of investments into small businesses, including refugee-run businesses, Inkomoko has spurred the creation of more than 35,000 jobs.
Emmanuel Tuyisenge, CEO of TEMACO Builders, a Kigali-based construction company and one of Inkomoko’s first clients said it all.
“Inkomoko’s support, mentorship and loan at very low rates were a real lifeline. We were able to expand our business and committed to always pay back our loan on time because we knew that when we timely pay back, other entrepreneurs who are struggling just as we were also get a chance to access funding,” Tuyisenge said and offered Rwf1million as support to Inkomoko activities.
Inkomoko was founded in 2012 by Julienne Oyler and Sara Leedom and was originally called African Entrepreneur Collective.
Inkomoko provides business development services, including training on marketing, sales, and financial management. The accelerator also offers one-on-one consulting, to help put these lessons into practice.
Through Inkomoko’s in-house investment fund, it offers financing at below market rates, and also offer Sharia-compliant products- with services in: Amharic, Arabic, English, French, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Somali and Swahili.
Today, the company has 18 offices across Rwanda, Kenya, and Ethiopia to reach another nine communities with its proven model of support. The Inkomoko 10th anniversary Celebration of Community gathered all 200 Inkomoko staff back to Kigali for a retreat on how to better serve clients for the next 10 years.
Reflecting on this milestone anniversary, Oyler, Inkomoko’s CEO said they are so proud that so many entrepreneurs have allowed us to walk with them in their journey.
“The work our team has done to improve livelihoods, grow small businesses, and create jobs inspires me to do even more to see communities thrive.” Oyler said.
The Inkomoko strategic plan includes serving more than 500,000 clients in 8 countries, including greater investments, more digital services, and market linkages strategies that will connect entrepreneurs to one another across geographies.
By 2030, Inkomoko will expand to 8 countries, working with half a million businesses, primarily refugees, and the surrounding host communities. By adding services focused on market-linkages and encouraging inclusive economic growth in secondary markets, Inkomoko will reach 7.6 million people with our services.
Goat Party, Battle of The Djs
Inkomoko has an annual tradition of celebrating Bravery and Community by dropping a goat party to its staff and clients.
This year, the party involved a battle of the DJs involving Rwanda’s top CEOs Claire Akamanzi (Rwanda Development Board) as ‘DJ VisitRwanda’, Dr. Diane Karusisi (Bank of Kigali) as DJ BK, Arthur Assimwe (Rwanda Broadcasting Agency) as ‘DJ HafiYawe’, Sina Gerald (Sina Urwibutso) as ‘DJ Akabanga’, Kampeta Pichette Sayinzoga (Development Bank of Rwanda) as DJ Kampz and Inkomoko’s one and only Julienne Oyler as ‘DJ Jupac’
Assisted by Pro DJs, the CEO battled each other on the DJ discs playing a range of music vibes from old school, Caribbean, afro beats, and dancehall sending the crowds into celebration mood however the crowds failed to choose who was better than the other on the disc.