1,000 Entrepreneurs within Refugee Communities in Rwanda to Benefit from Economic Recovery Grants on World Refugee Day

The grants are part of a larger program launched by Inkomoko, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, to enable businesses in Rwanda to overcome the economic impacts of COVID-19

KIGALI, RWANDA, 19 June, 2020 – In support of World Refugee Day, celebrated globally on 20 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 made possible through a commitment of US$2.3 million 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 via the Inkomoko Relief Fund to 3,500 MSMEs, including 1,000 entrepreneurs today within refugee communities, to re-emerge from COVID-19’s economic implications. The focus of the support will be on re-starting businesses that have been closed and supporting businesses to adapt to a new business climate.

“By adapting and increasing our support to entrepreneurs – who are more than ever in need of business advisory and financial support – as well as young people, refugees, and micro enterprises, 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. The new program is 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 Rwanda.

Chantal, a Congolese refugee, is one of the entrepreneurs that will receive a grant today. Chantal works from an outdoor market in the Gihembe Camp, where she sells onions, tomatoes, small dried fish, and cassava flour to her 12,000 camp neighbors. As a community food seller, Chantal did not let supply chain interruptions caused by COVID-19 close her business. “When we couldn’t move out of the camp due to lockdown restrictions, I was unable to buy from my normal suppliers. But, 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.” With an Inkomoko grant, Chantal will be able to purchase more, previously hard to reach, fresh items, to supplement the food offerings to her community. This income helps support her family of eight.

Inkomoko’s grant initiative is aligned with the Government of Rwanda’s 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 livelihoods 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 COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program is supporting partners like Inkomoko who are working in some of the most vulnerable communities across Africa. With support across a range of areas from economic to health, we are ensuring that no one is left behind as communities begin to recover from this devastating pandemic. The Mastercard Foundation is proud to support refugee entrepreneurs who continue to demonstrate tremendous resiliency and determination,” says Rica Rwigamba, Country Head, Rwanda, at the Mastercard Foundation.

The Inkomoko Relief Fund that will support the 3,500 MSMEs, including the 1,000 entrepreneurs within the refugee communities, will launch on 19 June 2020. This coincides with World Refugee Day on 20 June 2020, 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 refugees 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 Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook platforms, with a cumulative following of over 2.7 million followers, to help build visibility for refugee communities. Over the next six 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, 19 June 2020 via social media on the following social media channels:


  • INKOMOKO: @Inkomoko
  • JULIE GICHURU: @JulieGichuru


  • INKOMOKO: Inkomoko
  • JULIE GICHURU: TheRealJulieGichuru


  • INKOMOKO: @Inkomoko
  • JULIE GICHURU: @JulieGichuru

About Inkomoko

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 USD.

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. For more information, visit www.inkomoko.com or www.africanentrepreneurcollective.org

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org

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