Rwanda’s African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), locally known as Inkomoko has received a grant of up to USD$1 million from Mastercard to support the growth of small business owners in Rwanda though mentorhip programmes for entrepreneurs in technology, agriculture and energy for three years.
The grant was given by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth in support of Rwanda’s Sustainable Development Goals, the commitment is in line with driving poverty out of Rwanda through job creation, ensuring gender equality through equal access to opportunities, and delivering decent work prospects which will enable economic growth.
“Connecting entrepreneurs, especially women and refugees, to the networks that power the modern world – like financial services – unlocks their economic potential and accelerates a cycle of equitable and sustainable economic growth,” says Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
The Inkomoko entrepreneurship programme aims to restore the dignity of refugees living in Rwanda by empowering these small business owners with vital support to grow their businesses. The programme will work with 4,000 refugees in Rwanda over the next three years.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners are key drivers of the local economy – currently making up 97.8 percent of the private sector in the country.Inkomoko’s one-year programme removes the barriers local entrepreneurs face in the areas of skills development, networks, and financing, through providing mentoring, technical support, capacity building, and direct access to affordable capital.
What makes the partnership between Mastercard and Inkomokounique is the support of both Rwandan nationals as well as some of the 160,000 refugees currently living in Rwanda. In collaboration with the United Nations Agency on Refugees (UNHCR), the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and MastercardCenter for Inclusive Growth, Inkomokowill roll out aprogramme aimed at fostering the social and economic independence of refugees in Rwanda.
“The intention is to connect refugees with the tools and skills necessary to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent entrepreneurs to improve their own livelihoods, create jobs for others in their communities, and contribute to Rwanda’s larger economic development. Rwanda’s refugee camps and host communities are places of vibrant social and economic activity with bustling markets, shops, restaurants, and industries,” says Julienne Oyler, Executive Director of African Entrepreneur Collective. “Supporting and developing entrepreneurs in these areas will have tremendous impact on the communities themselves and the country at large.”