World Refugee Day is an international day organised every year on 20th June by the United Nations to celebrate and honour refugees from around the world.
Following the pledge; Inkomoko is working with MTN Rwanda, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT), the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management, and UNHCR to distribute the majority of the 500 phones to refugee and host community entrepreneurs, increasing their access to Government services, financial products, and overall digital connectivity for their small businesses.
Initiated by MTN Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the Connect Rwanda campaign was launched in December 2019, with the objective of providing smartphones to unconnected households across Rwanda to leverage the digital economy. Since then, private companies, Government institutions and individuals have come together to connect all Rwandans through technology.
Inkomoko’s phone donation, as part of World Refugee Day, aligned with its larger strategy to digitize services and provide increased access to finance for refugee and host community entrepreneurs. These pivots have emerged as Inkomoko adapted to helping entrepreneurs adjust to new ways of working during COVID-19. Phone distribution will launch in the Gihembe Refugee Camp where Inkomoko has been working since 2016.
Commenting on the development; Olive Ashimwe, Inkomoko’s Regional Director of Refugee Affairs said: “During COVID-19, movement restrictions limited how we could provide services in refugee communities. Like most businesses, it forced us to quickly develop digital offerings that would work for our clients. Because we were able to make expedient digital implementations and because 39% of our Inkomoko staff are refugees themselves, we were able to continuously serve our entrepreneurs despite movement restrictions.”
The 500 donated smartphones fortify Inkomoko’s track record of financial inclusion, as Inkomoko is also rolling out a new digital loan app that will increase access to business financing for refugee and host communities. This mobile loan app for smartphones is available in Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili, and will help Inkomoko to diversify access points for financing across the country, a key request from entrepreneurs. All of the phones donated by Inkomoko will come preloaded with their app.
Last year for World Refugee Day, Inkomoko partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to release US$2.6million in COVID-19 relief grants to more than 3,500 refugee and host community entrepreneurs. One year later they have released data showing that as a result of their grants, businesses were able to generate more than US$10 million in new revenue and they employ more than 20,000 people throughout Rwanda. In addition, 98% of closed businesses have re-opened.
Julienne Oyler, the CEO of Inkomoko has explained that working with entrepreneurs has consistently shown that investing in refugee businesses is catalytic for economic development at-large.
“We are able to provide new growth opportunities for our clients in refugee communities by bringing new investments and digital solutions,” she noted.
Looking ahead, Inkomoko has pledged to support more refugee and host community entrepreneurs, including providing 25,000 refugee households with access to affordable capital in the coming years, all facilitated by more digital solutions.
Inkomoko has supported more than 25,000 businesses in Rwanda to run their operations in a more efficient and strategic way, providing training, consulting, and affordable loans. Inkomoko has more than 120 staff serving entrepreneurs nationwide in Rwanda through offices in Kigali, Musanze, and all 6 refugee camps and hosting communities. Inkomoko is the Rwandan affiliate of African Entrepreneur Collective.
For more information on Inkomoko please visit www.Inkomoko.com