Inkomoko Provides Grants to 3,500 Small Business in Rwanda to Pivot and Relaunch After COVID-19 Crisis

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17 July 2020
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Mastercard Foundation (Africa)
press release

Kigali, Rwanda — Inkomoko in Partnership with the Mastercard Foundation Announces its Second Round of Grant Funding

On Friday, 17 July, Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development will distribute the second round of Inkomoko Relief Fund grants to small businesses in Rwanda. Inkomoko launched the fund last month, providing the first 1,000 grants to micro enterprises in refugee camps and in the surrounding host communities. This second phase of grant funding will support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across Rwanda as they recover from the initial shock of the COVID-19 crisis and develop new strategies for longer-term business growth.

"No matter how good strategy advice is, sometimes small businesses still require a boost of capital to implement those new strategies.  These grants will help businesses in Rwanda introduce new products, get digital, or pivot their strategies, so that businesses can access customers and markets," says Nathalie Niyonzima, Managing Director at Inkomoko.  "Making these changes will help them be resilient and use this moment to leapfrog into new ways of doing business."

In Rwanda, MSMEs account for 98% of all businesses and provide 41% of private sector employment. Supporting these businesses to rebuild as quickly as possible will be vital to the overall economic recovery of the country.

[Read: 1,000 Refugee Entrepreneurs in Rwanda to Receive Economic Grants ]

To support the recovery of Rwanda's MSME sector, Inkomoko has received $2.3M USD from the Mastercard Foundation's COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program to deploy as one-time grants to 3,500 entrepreneurs of varying size across Rwanda. This grant financing program is meant to complement the Government of Rwanda's Economic Recovery Fund designed to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 and accompany local entrepreneurs in their journey towards economic recovery.

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Rwanda Development Board's CEO, Clare Akamanzi says "Covid-19 meant a setback for the MSME sector and the economy in general. Despite this setback, Rwanda has shown great resilience and preparedness. We have seen many innovative responses especially from the MSME sector that have positioned the country to be more self-reliant. We welcome the support from Inkomoko in helping small businesses keep pace with the adjustments and advancements needed to meet new customer demands in safe and sustainable ways."

The Inkomoko Relief Fund is part of Inkomoko's larger commitment of business advisory services supporting entrepreneurs in adapting for success before, during and post-COVID-19.

"In alignment with the Government of Rwanda's priorities, this grant capital will support businesses to fortify their production capacity and pivot to e-commerce and other digital platforms to meet the needs of local consumers and the broader export market," says Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye of the Ministry of Trade Industry.

More than 1,000 micro businesses have already received grant capital through the Inkomoko Relief Fund. Ninety-severn percent (97%) of those that previously had closed due to COVID-19 have been able to reopen, and have a 46% average increase in business revenues since receiving the grant.  Inkomoko client revenue data shows that the small hospitality businesses served by Inkomoko, like cafes or restaurants, have recovered the most.

Leveraging advisory support to these businesses, grant recipients will also receive Inkomoko consulting, and some of them have been identified through one of Inkomoko's Government partners. At least 50% of the recipients are women, and nearly 90% of these businesses are based outside of Kigali, supporting a nation-wide recovery effort.

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"Investing in small businesses to adapt will not only support wide-scale economic recovery for Rwanda, but it also provides meaningful support to the men, women, families and youth, who have put their all into starting and growing a small business. Communities recover when families recover. Families recover when their businesses recover," says Inkomoko CEO, Julienne Oyler.

Join Inkomoko's joint virtual press briefing with Mastercard Foundation, MINICOM, and Rwanda Development Board on 17 July 2020 at 11:00am.

RSVP to press@inkomoko.comby 16 July 2020 to access the webinar link.

Plus, to hear entrepreneur stories please follow Inkomoko on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: @Inkomoko

About Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development

Inkomoko, the Rwandan affiliate of African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), has provided training and consulting services to MSMEs since 2012. With offices in 8 districts across Rwanda, including all six refugee camps, Inkomoko has worked with more than 13,000 entrepreneurs resulting in over 8,000 new jobs in Rwanda and $18.3M USD in new revenue. For more information, visit or

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:

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