Equity Bank partners with FSD Africa to extend financial services to refugees in Rwanda

On 1 June 2022 at 03:39

FSD Africa and Equity Bank Rwanda PLC have launched a Financial Inclusion programme for refugees (FI4R) that aims to provide financial services to over 90,000 refugees in Rwanda.

FSD Africa is a specialist development agency working to reduce poverty by strengthening financial markets across sub-Saharan Africa.

Through this programme, refugees will be able to access mobile banking and agency banking services like opening accounts, receiving, and sending money, saving, digital loans, insurance and others through unstructured service data (USSD) channels. Furthermore, the project will provide financial literacy trainings to equip the refugees with knowledge on how to manage their finances.

The need to extend financial services to vulnerable groups like refugees, cannot be understated. With easier access to financial services and knowledge of how to manage their personal and business finances, refugees across Rwanda will be able to transact safely and with ease. Access to and usage of financial services can allow low-income households, including refugees, to build assets, mitigate shocks, increase resilience, and contribute to the local economy.

The project builds on earlier work funded by FSD Africa and Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) in partnership with UNHCR following a market assessment done by BFA Global that outlined refugees financial needs and provided a business case for financial institutions to serve them. It also identified barriers refugees face when accessing financial services and offered solutions to overcoming them.

The project was officially launched in Mahama Refugee Camp in Kirehe District, Eastern Province. Mahama Refugee Camp is the largest refugee camp in Rwanda, hosting over 47,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and several other neighbouring countries.

Speaking at the launch event, Diana Mukundwa, the Head of Investment and Social Impact at Equity Bank Rwanda said: “As a bank, we believe in easing access to financial services as a vehicle to transforming livelihoods across Africa. Through this project, we will be able to impact more lives in a sustainable way that will start their journey towards financial independence.”

Kuria Wanjau, Programme Manager for Fragile Communities and States at FSD Africa, said: “Refugees have financial and other needs like everybody else. It is therefore imperative for the financial sector to serve them just as they would anybody else. Refugees are engaged in economic activities, have incomes and spend; the financial system should facilitate such activities”

About FSD Africa

FSD Africa is a specialist development agency working to reduce poverty by strengthening financial markets across sub-Saharan Africa. Based in Nairobi, FSD Africa’s team of financial sector experts work alongside governments, business leaders, regulators and policy makers to design and build ambitious programmes that make finance work for Africa’s future. Established in 2012, FSD Africa is incorporated as a non-profit company limited by guarantee in Kenya. It is funded by UK aid from the UK government.

About Equity Bank Rwanda PLC

Equity Bank Rwanda began its operations in 2011 and is registered as a commercial bank by the National Bank of Rwanda. The Bank has its Head Office located in Kigali, with a footprint of 16 branches and is supported by over 3500 agents and a network of 24 ATMs.

Equity Bank Rwanda is a subsidiary of Equity Group Holdings Plc, a financial services company listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Uganda Securities Exchange, and Rwanda Stock Exchange. In addition to Equity Bank Rwanda, the Group has banking subsidiaries in, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, and a Commercial Representative Office in Ethiopia; with additional non-banking subsidiaries engaged in the provision of investment banking, custodial, insurance agency, philanthropy, consulting, and infrastructure services.

Officials pose for a photo with Equity Bank Agents operating in Mahama Camp.
(L-R) Representatives from National Bank of Rwanda, Equity Bank Rwanda, FSD African and Access To Finance Rwanda at the event.
Kuria Wanjau, Program Manager Digital Economy - FSD Africa addressing participants of the event.
Mr. Kimenyi Valens - Director Financial Sector Development at BNR was the guest of honour.
Dianah Mukundwa, the Head of Investment and social impact at Equity Bank Rwanda has said that the bank is committed to ease access to financial services.