FEATURED: Refugee entrepreneurs step up to contribute to Rwanda’s economy

Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development celebrates World Refugee Day across Rwanda, with a recognition of refugee entrepreneurs as economic contributors

Kigali, Rwanda – Today, June 20, communities and people from all walks of life are taking big and small steps in solidarity with refugees for the annual World Refugee Day. This year’s theme “Step With Refugees” was chosen in recognition of the thousands of kilometers refugees travel to find safety and rebuild their lives.

Today, Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development joined the Government of Rwanda, UNHCR and other stakeholders to salute the courage and resilience of more than 150,000 refugees currently living in Rwanda.

In support of MINEMA’s and UNHCR’s joint strategy for the economic inclusion of refugees, Inkomoko has also supported 4500 refugees who have chosen to start and grow businesses for self-reliance. Inkomoko offers refugee entrepreneurs training and financial tools needed to start and grow businesses, improve their personal financial sustainability, regain dignity, and become self-reliant. After completing the Inkomoko program, 92% of these businesses are still operational.

“Prior to joining Inkomoko, I was struggling with losses. In the program, I learnt how to save and reinvest in my business, the process and advantages of paying taxes. The eye opener was to think about expanding my business and understanding market opportunities. In short, I acquired business management skills and best ways to sustain my business,” said Emima Nyiramasine, a refugee entrepreneur in Gihembe Camp.

The Rwandan government’s policies allow refugees to register a business with RDB, open a bank account, and pay taxes. Refugees in Inkomoko’s program have paid more than 73M RwF in taxes to date.

“These policies encourage refugees to contribute to Rwanda’s growth, so we are helping them make their own living, as well as contribute to their host community. It benefits everyone,” said Olive Ashimwe, Inkomoko’s Director of MicroBusiness Solutions.

Inkomoko’s refugee entrepreneurs have also created more than 2600 jobs, of which 90% were filled by Rwandans in the host community. This year, Inkomoko has seen even more mutually beneficial business linkages between Rwandan entrepreneurs and refugees by offering integrated trainings, expos, and networking events in partnership with the local districts.

“Since I joined the Inkomoko program, I’ve seen a great improvement in my family business and livelihood at large. My gratitude goes to the Government of Rwanda that is giving to refugees, like me and my husband, opportunities work and do business in Rwanda. We are living a dignified life,” said Esperance Musanigare, a refugee entrepreneur in Kigeme Camp.

“Walking alongside these refugees on their journey of entrepreneurship demonstrates our belief that anyone can make a difference and be self-reliant, no matter what their background is,” said Lydia Irambona, Inkomoko’s Regional Director of Refugee Affairs.

Rwanda’s World Refugee Day celebrations in Kigeme camp, one of the six refugee camps in Rwanda that Inkomoko works in, will commence with a marriage ceremony for registered couples in the camp, exhibition of items made by refugees and host community members, and testimonies from refugees and the host members about living and working in community together. Dignitaries, including the Mayor of Nyamagabe, Governor of the Southern Province, UN Resident Coordinator, and UNHCR Deputy Representative, are to join the Honorable Minister of the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management as the Guest of Honor.

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