BY Jean de Dieu Nizeyimana
Over 300 existing businesses and start-ups owned by refugees and host communities in Rwanda have received a boost of support, thanks to the ongoing partnership between GIZ and Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI).
Beneficiaries of these toolkits and equipment include refugees from Refugee Camps of Mahama in Kirehe District, Mugombwa in Gisagara district, Kigeme in Nyamagabe District, urban refugees in Kigali City and Huye District as well as host communities.
Through the project, funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) refugees and host communities have received tool,-kits and equipment as an enabler to their businesses growth and increasing the employment opportunities among youths.
The primary goals of the project are to improve the saving groups (GSLAs) made up of TVET graduates through capacity building, accompaniment, and distribution of tool-kits to the selected TVET graduates to allow job creation and existing enterprises to develop businesses.
Beneficiaries had to compete with other applicants for the opportunity to get toolkits or equipment.
The final numbers and names of the candidates who were selected among the others to be provided with toolkits and equipment support were determined after these applications had been examined and analyzed by experts from both RWARRI and GIZ.
This activity is conducted in close collaboration between GIZ, RWARRI and the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA).
Speaking at the similar activity in Kigali, on 5th April, 2023, the Executive Director of RWARRI, Uwizeye Belange congratulated beneficiaries for their efforts to have passed through a rigorous selection, training up to the award of toolkits or equipment support.
“This is our pleasure,” he said.
Mr. Uwizeye explained that the targeted beneficiaries were around 320 businesses but as for now 280 groups and 20 refugees’ businesses whom 11 are based in Kigali and 9 in Huye benefited to a budget estimated around Rwf 180 million in this exercise.
“All this was done bearing in mind the intention to empower youth in vocational skills, promote job creations and strengthen the graduate groups savings and lending associations (GSLAs).” Mr. Uwizeye added.
He said that they are delighted to reach to this important activity which gives value to the work they have been doing to journey with these refugees and host communities , make applications, make competitions and award with merit the toolkits/equipments that serve as seed capital to their businesses for making them self-reliant and providing jobs to other refugees and host community members.
On behalf of the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA), Mr. GASANA Richard, said that this activity perfectly matches with the government of Rwanda’s initiative in partnership with UNHCR and other partners to ensure refugees self-reliance as stipulated in the global policies for supporting refugees.
He commended RWARRI for contacting these Refugees groups and host communities and assessing their needs together with offering them training related to financial literacy.
He said “This activity is among the priorities of the socio-economic needs of the refugees, Humanitarian assistance to refugees to ensure the progressive self-reliance of refugees and host communities.”
During the selection, refugees who had already received in-kindsupport through other partners were not considered, in order to avoid duplication of efforts.
Mr. Gasana urged the beneficiaries to effectively use these toolkits/equipment so that they can benefit from them while also contributing to the sustainable development for them, their families and providing jobs to others. He concluded by thanking GIZ and RWARRI and the beneficiaries for their efforts made towards job creation through this important activity of distributing toolkits to the beneficiaries.
Testimonies from beneficiaries:
MUHIMPUNDU Jacqueline, a refugee from BURUNDI living in Kigali owns a business of manufacturing liquid soap. She said that she is grateful to GIZ, RWARRI and other partners who supported them in this journey.
“We were a big number, we had many challenges related to access to finance…Through this project, I have got enough stock which can last for three months,” She said.
She committed to provide jobs to two more refugees in addition to her existing staff.
Renovat NITUNGA owns a company that works in agri-business. He said that their activities are mainly growing chilli pepper and avocados.
This business operates in Kigali city where he cultivates 3 hectares.
He revealed that the wish was to produce pepper and avocados and be able to process them to come up with packaged pepper in bottles, and also produce oil coming from avocados.
Nitunga said that the cost for equipment was very high and as refugees they could not afford them and no financial institution would give him a loan as well.
He said that thanks to GIZ and RWARRI support, he has got some of the needed equipment which he believes will help him to increase the production and keep the post-harvest well
He promised the rapid development and improvement of lives of the refugees and other host communities and wished that this chance could reach a large number of refugees .
In her closing remarks, Nanda Ritsma the GIZ Project Manager thanked the beneficiaries adding that “You have come from far, but with courage , engagement and high commitment , I expect to hear from you.”
She said that they will keep in touch with them and they will keep providing support where needed and possible.
“Today you have assets , together with the energy you have put in to achieve this, I hope that these assets will help you to grow your businesses and to get collateral needed for further access to finance.” she said.