Rwanda: BRD Spearheads Economic Inclusion Among Refugees

1 December 2020

The Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) has secured $9 million (over $8.5 billion) from the World Bank to finance entrepreneurial projects initiated by refugees in Rwanda.

The development is part of the $60 million agreement signed between Rwanda and the World Bank in 2019.

It seeks to stimulate financial institutions' lending to refugees.

Under this agreement, BRD will provide matching grants to financial institutions that fund projects initiated by refugees or host communities as micro-small and medium enterprises, cooperatives or individuals.

Kampeta Sayinzoga, BRD Chief Executive Officer, has encouraged commercial banks, microfinance institutions and savings and credit cooperatives to access the matching grants and contribute to improving livelihoods of refugees.

The project aims at among others financing projects aimed at improving access to basic services and economic opportunities for refugees and host communities and support environmental management, in the six districts that host refugee camps.

"We are excited for this kick-off because it falls in line with our mandate to facilitate the emergence of a strong private sector that contributes to socio-economic development in Rwanda," Sayinzoga said.

Refugee and host communities in Rwanda, she added, are no exception and highly deserve such initiatives.

The new project is part of the Bank's efforts to align its mandate with the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Banque Populaire du Rwanda and Africa Entrepreneur Collective Rwanda Trustee Ltd (AEC RT), also known as Inkomoko, have already expressed interest in accessing the matching loans.

"We thank the first financial institutions AEC and BPR that have become the first applicants to work with us in implementing this initiative and we encourage other financial players to approach us and apply in order to widen the pool to reach more potential beneficiaries." Sayinzoga reiterated.

Roland Pryce, the World Bank Country Manager, said; "The World Bank congratulates the Development Bank of Rwanda, AEC RT and BPR, on this important milestone, 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."

She pointed out that the move was a timely initiative owing to the Covid-19 pandemic that has wrecked livelihoods of many families.

"We look forward to other participating financial institutions in target districts joining this grant scheme," she added.

According to Olivier Kayumba, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Emergency Management and Refugee Affairs, "The Government 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 both on a global and domestic level in Rwanda, Kayumba asserted, the 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 on a daily basis," he said.

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