The African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) Executive Director, Julienne Oyler, said: “It is important that everyone is given an opportunity to work in these trying times.”
“Our experience in the last recession has shown that for an economy to recover, it has to start from the community level. The small and micro businesses stimulate economy from the bottom and that is the way to go.
“Not all countries in Africa allow refugees to work. But it will help a lot if the refugees are allowed to work and form business linkages with the local communities. These linkages will form supply chains that at the end will help the economy,” she said.
Through its affiliate in Rwanda, Inkomoko, AEC has given 1,000 grants to entrepreneurs who live in and around the refugee camps in Rwanda to help them recover after the COVID 19.
The grants will cover small business such as vegetable sellers, small shop owners and other small businesses whose livelihoods depends on the revenue from their fragile economic activities.
Oyler said that they have received funding from the MasterCard Fountain to the tune of US$2.3million to help these small businesses to recover after the pandemic that has affected a lot of them.
She mentioned that Kenya and Rwanda have a lot of refugees in their countries and if there is one thing that we can all learn is how the refugees have been instrumental in starting and operating businesses that have helped the local communities.
On the operations of the grants, she said the Inkomoko and other projects that will be established along the same lines will consider the issue of gender where at least 50 percent of the grantees will be women; with refugees and businesses from local communities also into the equation.
Currently, AEC operates in Kenya and Rwanda but it has plans to roll out its project in the bigger Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions in the future.
According to Oyler, Inkomoko initiative plan to roll out 3500grants to different entrepreneurs based on what they were doing before COVID 19 and size of their businesses.